This document outlines some of Myanmar/Burma’s (hereinafter “Burma”) obligations under international law, and demonstrates the ramifications of these obligations. Burma’s obligations under international law have greatly increased due to the advances in international law and the enforcement of states obligations over the last fifteen years.
International law mandates that states either act or refrain from acting in certain ways, and provides remedies for state breaches. The framework of Burma’s obligations arise from four interrelated bodies of international law: international human rights and other treaty law, including the United Nations (UN) Charter; customary international law, including the laws of state responsibility; international humanitarian law; and international criminal law.
UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security: A Chart Detailing State Mandates to End Crimes of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, Ensure Accountability and Promote Gender Parity in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations
The following chart details the legally-binding mandates of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security 1325 (2000), 1820 (2008), 1888 (2009), 1889 (2009), and 1960 (2010) – emphasizing the need for greater protection of women‟s rights and the inclusion of women in global governance and peace processes. The chart delineates the duties and obligations for action by 1) the UN Secretary-General, and 2) Myanmar/Burma [hereinafter Burma], as both a UN member state and a party to armed conflict.
Despite their application to Burma, the Resolutions have not brought any real and concrete change for girls and women on the ground. The inability of UN representatives to reach conflict areas in Burma severely obstructs the reporting mechanisms of SCR 1960. Additionally, since the Constitution of Burma gives complete amnesty for any and all crimes committed by the ruling military regime, the Burmese government precludes any meaningful accountability and justice mechanism for the women victims of sexual violence and enshrines further impunity for perpetrators.
The Global Justice Center is a New York based Human Rights Organization with consultative status to the United Nations working with judges, parliamentarians and civil society leaders on the strategic and timely enforcement of international equality guarantees. The Global Justice Center has been at the forefront of human rights advocacy in Burma by working closely with groups on the ground to implement international women‟s rights through the rule of law.
Domestic Criminal Laws That Conflict with International Law: Burma's Abortion and Rape Laws - A Case Study
International law provides a model to improve often outdated domestic laws.
Burma is party to many treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Genocide Convention and the Geneva Conventions. International law requires states to comply with their treaty obligations in “good faith” regardless of whether domestic laws conflict with the treaty. These obligations often include requirements that states modify their domestic laws to ensure compliance with international human rights and humanitarian standards and obligations. For example, the Genocide and Geneva Conventions, ratified by Burma, both require as a part of their fundamental mandates that states pass domestic laws to comply with their treaty obligations. Burma currently has no domestic laws implementing any of its human rights treaty obligations, with the possible exception of its laws against human trafficking.
This document examines Burma’s domestic criminal laws addressing abortion and rape and compares them with the international law standards binding on Burma. These case studies are examples of how international law can be used to reform of Burma’s domestic law to comport with international human rights and humanitarian standards.
The Burmese military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), continues to exercise dictatorial control over the lives of the people of Burma as it has done with impunity over forty years. The junta routinely employs torture, rape, slavery, murder, forced displacement, and mass imprisonment to consolidate its power and silence any dissent. These acts are criminal violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
There is growing consensus in international law that grave violations of international humanitarian law are a threat to international peace and security and that the world community has a moral and legal duty to intervene if the state is the perpetrator, or cannot or will not stop the crimes. Perpetrators of gender-based crimes must be held accountable in order to ensure a rule of law based on gender equality.
The GJC publishes a fact sheet on unequal access to justice in the Middle East.
This fact sheet lists 3 of the obstacles women face in gaining equal access to justice in the Middle East: Penal Codes/Laws, Customary and Social Practices and Limited Judicial Participation. It also provides a table with a list of Middle Eastern countries that have ratified CEDAW, and their policies on women's participation in the judiciary (i.e. whether it is permitted, and what limitations are involved).
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines discrimination against women and requires states not only to prohibit discrimination but also to take affirmative steps in order to achieve gender equality. The Convention is legally binding upon States that have ratified the Convention and any laws in violation of CEDAW must be struck down.
CEDAW has been used to support affirmative action policies and programs as well as to strike down laws that are in violation of the Convention. These cases carry significant import: the application of CEDAW in domestic courts gives CEDAW legitimacy globally and reinforces the principal that domestic courts are bound by international treaties such as CEDAW.
2006: A fact sheet on how the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women can be used to advocate for women's reproductive rights, including abortion.