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ICJ ruling on Rohingya issue

Date: 25 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has asked the government of Myanmar to immediately take all measures within its power to prevent atrocities against members of the minority Rohingya Muslim community.

 

Background

The Gambia, which is predominantly Muslim, went to the ICJ in November 2019, accusing Myanmar of genocide, which is the most serious of all international crimes. The Gambia was backed by the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

 

Details

  • The ruling of the court is binding on Myanmar, and cannot be appealed. However, no means are available to the court to enforce it.

  • The Gambia and Myanmar are parties to the Genocide Convention that allows a party to move the ICJ for violations.

  • Proving genocide has been difficult because of the high bar set by its ‘intent requirement’, that is showing the genocidal acts were carried out with the specific intent to eliminate a people on the basis of their ethnicity.

  • So far, only three cases of genocide worldwide have been recognised since World War II: Cambodia (the late 1970s), Rwanda (1994), and Srebrenica, Bosnia (1995).

  • Even with the stepping in of the Security Council, there are several hurdles in enforcement of ICJ decisions. Any one of the five permanent members of the Security Council with veto powers can block the enforcement of an ICJ decision against itself or its ally.

ICJ statement

  • Myanmar shall ensure that its military or any irregular armed units within its control, do not commit any of the acts described above, or conspire to commit, direct, attempt to commit, or be complicit in genocide.

  • Myanmar shall take “effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts” of genocide.

  • Myanmar shall submit a report to the ICJ on all measures taken to give effect to the order within four months, and thereafter every six months, until a final decision is passed.

Rohingya case

An estimated 7.3 lakh Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since 2017 when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown on Rohingya villages in the country’s coastal Rakhine state. In August 2019, the UN said the army’s action was carried out with “genocidal intent”.

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