Top Picks: Burundi, Bangladesh, and battling #PostTruth

Every week, IRIN's team of editors curates a selection of humanitarian reports and opinion you may have missed, from in-depth analysis and features to academic studies and podcasts:

Repression and genocidal dynamics in Burundi

A powerful and disturbing new report on Burundi by the International Federation of Human Rights concludes that the risk of genocide against the minority Tutsi, who are identified with the opposition, is real. It examines the dynamics in depth, exploring the shift from open conflict to repression, to more covert abuse, all under the control of President Pierre Nkurunziza and a hardcore clique within his CNDD-FDD party.

It notes: "if the original project of President Nkurunziza and the Burundi ruling circles was the preservation of power, it is clear that they have undertaken all means at their disposal to achieve this. Thus, all the criteria and conditions for the perpetrating of genocide are in place: ideology, intent, security institutions If the Tutsi are not the only ones targeted by the regime, ethnicity is sufficiently being instrumentalised for the current situation in Burundi to be called a repression with genocidal dynamics."

Cooperation and complicity

At the start of this week, the UK foreign ministry concluded there's no clear risk that Saudi Arabia is breaching international humanitarian law in Yemen, which conveniently means the government feels it is in the clear to keep on selling weapons to the Saudis (despite arguments to the contrary from pretty much every watchdog out there). Part of the ministry's two reports on this delve into the extent to which UK officers are involved in the Saudi-led coalition's efforts in the Yemen war, and that's where Harriet Moynihan's timely paper for Chatham House comes in. Moynihan considers the implications under international law of "aiding and assisting" other states in war and counterterrorism. She gives a solid overview of the (sometimes confusing) law, with practical examples and recommendations of how governments can avoid doing this wrong. As Moynihan points out in the accompanying comment piece, avoiding turning cooperation into complicity starts with the need for states to actually do their homework before lending a hand.

Did the United States commit war crimes in Afghanistan?

The International Criminal Court's Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2016 includes sections on countries including Gabon, Ukraine, and Colombia. But it's the section on Afghanistan that is most explosive. That's because the court has determined that "there is a reasonable basis to believe" war crimes and crimes against humanity have occurred. Crimes were allegedly perpetrated by the Taliban, the Afghan security forces, US soldiers, "and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency". The report dropped amid a landslide of lost support for the ICC, as three African nations began the process of withdrawing, making accusations that the court was targeting only subjects from their continent. Then came news that Russia was withdrawing its backing for the ICC, although it never did ratify the treaty in the first place (neither has the US). The report is all the more interesting as it shows the ICC challenging the world's most powerful nation just at the moment when it faces perhaps its biggest crisis of legitimacy.

Bangladesh 'complicity' in attacks on minorities

Bangladesh was born of bloodshed. Formerly "East Pakistan", India went to war with Islamabad after troops from "West Pakistan" began a wholesale slaughter - some say genocide - of ethnic Bengalis. Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation, but now its leaders are refusing to protect minorities who are increasingly being killed in their own country. Minority Rights Group says that, since 2013, militant groups have stepped up attacks on Ahmadi, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Shi'a Muslim communities. And the attacks are taking place within a "climate of impunity, with many abuses appearing to be carried out with the complicity of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary." If any further evidence of this trend was needed, it emerged earlier this month as hundreds of Muslims went on a rampage in a Hindu neighbourhood in the capital, Dhaka, destroying homes and temples as police stood by and did nothing.

One to listen to:

Why Donald Trump probably won't wreck the Paris Agreement?

Note the "probably", and note that "won't wreck" doesn't necessarily mean embrace. In this two-part podcast, UN Dispatch dives in where IRIN left off last week, exploring how the election of a climate change denier to the Oval Office might affect the Paris Agreement. First up is Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Arlington, Virginia-based Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Diringer points out that even if President Trump wanted to formally withdraw the United States from the Paris accord, it would take him four years to do so. He believes Trump is more likely to heed the cautionary tale of George W. Bush, who was vilified internationally for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. "I think that the US, if it chooses to walk away, again, faces some potentially serious diplomatic consequences. I think other countries may well be less willing to help support the US in achieving its international objectives," Diringer says.

But how much damage might a simpler abnegation of US responsibility be, just when all the "nuts and bolts" of how the Paris Agreement is to be implemented are being worked out? Hugh Sealy, a diplomat from Grenada who is a lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, guards against "the sense of complacency" surrounding the accord. "We've always argued that the world needs to increase its ambition. It needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions rapidly. We need a revolution in the energy sector. We need a paradigm shift as quickly as possible. I've argued that it's akin to a global Marshall Plan." Trump is unlikely to lead such an effort, so will step up?

Source: IRIN.