Suu Kyi to lead Myanmar team contesting genocide court case

Excerpt of Associated Press articlethat features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the New York-based Global Justice Center, said Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s civilian government “failed to act against genocide in Rakhine State with any level of urgency and have taken no steps to hold the military to account.”

“The international community should no longer have illusions where Suu Kyi and the civilian government stand and must act to support The Gambia and take other measures to hold Myanmar accountable,” Radhakrishnan said in a statement.

Read the Article

Suu Kyi to defend Myanmar against genocide accusation at UN court

Excerpt of Al Jazeera article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which not only prohibits states from committing genocide but also compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, noted that Myanmar's civilian government had failed to act in 2017 and taken no steps to hold the military to account.

"Now, they are going to defend the military and the government's genocidal actions on one of the world's largest and most influential stages," Radhakrishnan said in a statement. 

"The international community should no longer have illusions where Suu Kyi and the civilian government stand and must act to support The Gambia and take other measures to hold Myanmar accountable."

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Urgency is Key for Rohingya Repatriation

Rohingya refugee women hold placards as they take part in a protest at the Kutupalong refugee camp to mark the one-year anniversary of their exodus in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Maggie Moore/USAID

By Nishan Kafle

Although the Rohingya of Burma have been subject to unrelenting government persecution for decades, it took an unprecedented form in 2017 when an estimated 530,000 Rohingya were violently driven from their home in Rakhine State in a military campaign that UN experts have called a genocide.

South Asia is no stranger to forced migration. Between 1991 and 1993, more than 100,000 Nepali speaking Bhutanese—commonly known as Lhotshampas—were forced out of Bhutan into Eastern Nepal. This was the result of the “One Nation, One People” policy, adopted in the 1980s, which aimed to shield the majority “Druk” Bhutanese identity from any Nepali influences. As a result, a mass exodus ensued with thousands of Bhutanese forced out of their homes into Eastern Nepal. Nepal, already a poor country under a strict monarchy, was ill-equipped to deal with such a great influx of refugees. And so, the Bhutanese were forced to live in squalid conditions under constant discrimination from people with whom they ostensibly shared a language and tradition.

The Gambia Files Lawsuit Against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice

NEW YORK — Today the government of the Republic of Gambia filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar for violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention. This historic lawsuit seeks to ensure Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for the genocide committed against the Rohingya.

Starting in October 2016 and then again in August 2017, Myanmar’s security forces engaged in so-called “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State. The operations were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations that, according to UN investigations, amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. Survivors reported indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and torture. Since August 2017 more than 745,000 ethnic Rohingya civilians have been forcibly displaced from Myanmar, with nearly 400 Rohingya villages attacked and burned.

The clearance operations followed decades of systematic persecution of the Rohingya by the government. Over the course of decades, Myanmar has rendered most its Rohingya population stateless through discriminatory laws, and placed severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, fundamental religious freedom as well as reproductive and marital rights.

In September, the UN Human Rights Council-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) concluded in its final report that “the State of Myanmar breached its obligation not to commit genocide” and welcomed efforts to ensure accountability, including at the ICJ.

The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and rules on disputes between states and other questions of international law. Article IX of the Genocide Convention provides that any disputes relating to the “interpretation, application or fulfillment” of the Convention, including “the responsibility of a State for genocide,” can be brought to the ICJ. For more information on the ICJ process, see “Q&A: The Gambia v. Myanmar, Rohingya Genocide at The International Court of Justice.”

As a party to the Genocide Convention, The Gambia refused to stay silent in the face of genocide and today took an important step in filing a case against Myanmar at the ICJ. As part of its filing, The Gambia requested the ICJ to issue provisional measures which, if granted, could impose immediately binding obligations on Myanmar.

“We commend The Gambia for upholding its international responsibility to punish genocide,” said Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. “The international community failed to prevent a genocide in Myanmar, but it is not too late to hold the State of Myanmar accountable for its crimes.”

"The Gambia’s lawsuit is a landmark moment for the global rule of law and for the victims of some of the most severe human rights abuses in recent memory,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center. “We must also remember that gender played a central role in this genocide and we hope this perspective will be at the heart of this critical effort to hold the state of Myanmar accountable for its atrocities.”

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Read Akila Radhakrishnan's Speech at UNGA74 Side Event on the Rohingya Crisis

"A Pathway to a Sustainable Solution to the Rohingya Crisis"
Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations

Text of Prepared Remarks

Thank you Simon. And thank you Minister Momen, Minister Tambadou for your leadership. It’s an honor to participate in this event with you both. As Simon mentioned, I am the President of the Global Justice Center, an international human rights organization dedicated to advancing gender equality through the rule of law. We combine legal analysis with strategic advocacy to ensure equal protection of the law for women and girls.

My organization has worked in Burma since 2005, largely on issues of justice and accountability, including for military-perpetrated sexual violence against ethnic women. As a result, we are all too familiar with the place we find ourselves in today: seeking to find ways to end to conflict and restore peace, break the cycle of impunity for horrific crimes perpetrated by the military against an ethnic minority, and a find path forward to true democratic transition in Burma.

A Pathway to a Sustainable Solution to the Rohingya Crisis

From September 29, 2019 6:00pm until 7:30pm ET

Hosted by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations in partnership with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, this side event during the 74th UN General Assembly is on a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis. The event will address the international crimes committed against the Rohingya – genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – and will examine current accountability efforts, including at the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court.

Speakers:

  • Abubacarr M. Tambadou, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia 
  • Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
  • Akila Radhakrishnan, President, Global Justice Center
  • Simon Adams, Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Documents Genocide and Calls for International Justice in Final Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK — Today the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar released its final report, summarizing its investigation into what it called “the gravest crimes under international law” committed against vulnerable populations in the country, including the Rohingya. The report explicitly calls for international legal accountability for violations of the Genocide Convention.

Established in 2017, the mission has thoroughly documented genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes carried out by the military and security forces in Myanmar and has consistently called on the international community to act. To that end, the final report applauded efforts by UN Member States such as The Gambia, who are potentially pursuing a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in line with their obligations under the Genocide Convention.

“The Fact-Finding Mission has been a tremendous advocate for international accountability in Myanmar, which remains the only true path to justice for victims of gross human rights violations, including genocide,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “As its mandate ends, it is essential that the international community take the mission’s recommendations seriously and take urgent action to break the culture of impunity in Myanmar.”

The Global Justice Center and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect met with Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubaccar M. Tambadou, and other senior officials in The Gambia earlier this month to discuss efforts to hold Myanmar accountable under the Genocide Convention. For more information on how an ICJ case might proceed, see this Q&A.

“We thank the Fact-Finding Mission for its crucial work and commend The Gambia for seeking to uphold its international responsibility to punish genocide,” said Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. “In 2017 the international community failed to prevent a genocide in Myanmar. But it is not too late to protect the Rohingya from further persecution and ensure that the perpetrators of these atrocities face international justice.”

“This week, world leaders will come together in New York for the start of the United Nations General Assembly. Action on Myanmar — whether sanctions, a referral to the International Criminal Court by the Security Council, or the creation of an ad-hoc tribunal — must be a priority," said Radhakrishnan.

Bringing a Gender Perspective to Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide and War Crimes

Excerpt ofLSE Women, Peace and Security blog post that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

International bodies must recognise the importance of publicly acknowledging the gendered experiences that people face rather than treating gender analysis as an ‘add on’. Dr Sheri Labenski details the discussion from the recent Centre event “What Does a Gender Perspective Bring to Crimes Against Humanity Genocide, and War Crimes?” where speakers Patricia Viseur Sellers and Akila Radhakrishnan, discussed crimes against humanity and genocide respectively, detailing reasons why a gendered approach should be applied to international offences and their prosecution.

Read the full article

The International Criminal Court Can Help End Impunity for Gender-Based Violence in its Investigation of the Rohingya

Rohingya refugee women hold placards as they take part in a protest at the Kutupalong refugee camp to mark the one-year anniversary of their exodus in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Also published by Ms. Magazine

By Katherine Comly

Ask any feminist how they think their government is doing at holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable and most would respond with an emphatic “poorly”— at best. Internationally, there are moves being made to tackle sexual violence, like awarding the Nobel Prize to Nadia Murad and passing the first Security Council Resolution on the issue. Still, they go nowhere near solving systemic problems.

There currently exists, however, a major opportunity to reform how the international justice system addresses sexual violence: the investigations into genocidal violence against the Rohingya in Burma. A gendered understanding of these crimes is essential and will fulfill the international community’s responsibility to recognize and punish all forms of genocidal violence.

Ending Impunity for Gender-Based Violence in Genocide

Excerpt ofMs. Magazine op-ed by GJC Legal Intern Katherine Comly.

Ask any feminist how they think their government is doing at holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable and most would respond with an emphatic “poorly”—at best. Internationally, there are moves being made to tackle sexual violence, like awarding the Nobel Prize to Nadia Murad and passing the first Security Council Resolution on the issue. Still, they go nowhere near solving systemic problems.

There currently exists, however, a major opportunity to reform how the international justice system addresses sexual violence: the investigations into genocidal violence against the Rohingya in Burma. A gendered understanding of these crimes is essential and will fulfill the international community’s responsibility to recognize and punish all forms of genocidal violence.

Read the Full Op-Ed

Experts warn ongoing abuse precludes Rohingya return

Excerpt ofAnadolu Agency article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Quoting a Thursday report released by the UN Fact-Finding Mission documenting and analyzing sexual and gender-based violence committed by Myanmar’s military, international humanitarian law organization Global Justice Center (GJC) President Akila Radhakrishnan said in a statement: "To date, no military perpetrator of sexual violence has been held accountable in Burma [Myanmar] for their crimes."

“Sexual and gender-based violence is, at its core, an expression of discrimination, patriarchy, and inequality,” said Radhakrishnan. “As a result, accountability for these crimes must be holistic and seek to address and transform the root causes of violence.”

Read the full article

"That's Illegal" Episode 11: Justice and the Genocide of the Rohingya

Two years ago, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya were violently driven from their homes in Burma in a military campaign that the United Nations has characterized as genocide. To this day, the military dictatorship who carried out these crimes has evaded any meaningful accountability.

Simon Adams, an expert on mass atrocity crimes and director of the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, joins That's Illegal to discuss worldwide efforts to get justice for the Rohingya. Akila Radhakrishnan, director of the Global Justice Center, also joins the program.
 

Enjoy this episode? Follow us on iTunes and Soundcloud!

Five Years After Genocide, Yazidis are Still Waiting for Justice

By Maryna Tkachenko

“Today, the Yazidis have largely been abandoned” — Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Yazidi survivor

August 3, 2014 changed the Yazidi community of Sinjar forever. The terrorist group Daesh killed and enslaved thousands of Yazidis, members of a small religious minority in northern Iraq that have been historically persecuted for being “devil worshippers.” In addition to carrying out coordinated attacks of violence against the group as a whole, Daesh explicitly targeted women and girls by inflicting widespread sexual violence in the form of rape, torture, and forced marriage. These gendered acts of the Yazidi genocide served as tools for recruitment, conversion, and forced indoctrination.

Five years later, despite a growing body of evidence, no Daesh fighter has been prosecuted for genocide of the Yazidi. In 2016, the United Nations recognized the attacks as a genocidal campaign, but Yazidis are still waiting for justice, hoping to return one day to their homes on the Sinjar Mountain.

Bringing a Gendered Lens to Genocide Prevention and Accountability

By Maryna Tkachenko

More than 70 years after the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, mass atrocity crimes are still carried out in systematic and, equally important, gendered ways. The lack of emphasis on the gendered nature of coordinated crimes not only jeopardizes international security but also ignores the multi-layered reality of genocidal violence. The most recent genocides against the Yazidi and the Rohingya populations are clear instances of the international community neglecting to prioritize a gendered lens in preventing and punishing genocide.

On 22 May, the Global Justice Center and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) held a panel on “Gender and Genocide: Engendering analysis for better prevention, accountability, and protection” to examine critical gaps within the framework of analysis for atrocity crimes. (Read GJC’s white paper Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide, & Obligations Under International Law to learn more about the ways in which female experiences of genocide are too often removed from the analysis of genocidal violence.) 

Webinar on Women in War: Stopping Sexual Violence in Conflict

From May 29, 2019 11:30 until 12:30

Adopted in April 2019, the UN Resolution 2467 calls for a survivor-centered approach to the prevention of sexual violence against women in conflict, and emboldens efforts to strengthen justice and accountability around the issue. But how can we ensure such non-binding resolutions are actually implemented on the ground? What does a viable action plan to stop violence against women in war look like?

Hosted by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and the Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes, this webinar will bring together experts on the subject to discuss the importance of the resolution and the equally important next steps that need to be taken to guarantee that perpetrators are held accountable, that survivors’ needs are met through a holistic range of practical and sustainable support, and that NGOs, activists and other allies can equip women with the training and networks they need to be active leaders on this issue.

Speakers:

  • Fatou Baldeh, Founder and CEO of Women in Leadership
  • Gunnar Berkemeier, Specialist, UN Peace Operations, Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations
  • Milica Kostic, Program Director, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
  • Akila Radhakrishnan, President, Global Justice Center
  • Elizabeth Silkes, Executive Director, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience

Watch Here

Protection of Civilians in Conflict Side Event - Gender and Genocide: Engendering analysis for better prevention, accountability, and protection

From May 22, 2019 1:00 until 2:00

At 10th Floor, Church Center of the United Nations, 777 United Nations Plaza

In December 2018, the international community marked the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. That same month, the Global Justice Center released its latest white paper, entitled Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide, & Obligations Under International Law.It underscores how gender, and preconceived beliefs related to it, affect perpetrators’ planning and commission of coordinated acts of genocidal violence in order to maximize the destructive impact on vulnerable groups protected under international laws, such as the Genocide Convention.

Genocide and other atrocity crimes, by the perpetrators’ own design, affect women and men in distinct ways by reason of their gender. Women and girls are often directly targeted in non-killing acts of genocide and are disproportionately burdened by the economic and social consequences of genocidal violence, whilst men and boys are often targeted in mass killings in line with their perceived gender roles as leaders and fighters. However, there has been a continued failure by the international community to acknowledge such gender-specificity in legal frameworks for accountability for such crimes, undercutting our ability to mobilize the Genocide Convention’s legal obligations to prevent and punish genocide.

More than 70 years on, genocide and other atrocities are still committed in many parts of the world and much remains to be done to better prevent these crimes and to strengthen accountability frameworks to get justice for victims. This May, the Global Justice Center (GJC) and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) would like to invite you to join us for a panel event on the sidelines of the upcoming UN Security Council debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict to raise awareness around the need for the inclusion of a gendered analysis to illuminate the multi-dimensional nature of genocide and other atrocity-related crimes to better prevent their occurrence.

Speakers:

  • Ms. Razia Sultana, Founder and Chairperson of Rohingya Women Welfare Society
  • Mr. Grant Shubin, Deputy Legal Director at the Global Justice Center  
  • Prof. Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum, Director of the Benjamin Ferencz Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic and the Faculty Director of the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights
  • Ms. Juliette Lehner, Associate Political Affairs Officer, UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
  • Moderator: Dr. Abigail Ruane, Director of the PeaceWomen Programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

As space will be limited, please register using this form or email Ms. Liz Olson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 5:00pm on Friday, May 17, 2019. A light lunch will be served.

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What Does a Gender Perspective Bring to Crimes Against Humanity Genocide, and War Crimes?

From May 02, 2019 6:00 pm until 8:30 pm 

At LSE Center for Women, Peace and Security, Wolfson Lecture Theatre

Overview:

The event marks the public launch of the Gendered Peace project which is funded by the European Research Council. In 2014 the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched its Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes to strengthen “expertise and commitment to the prosecution of sexual and gender-based crimes”.  Notwithstanding this ambition, five years on, the Court’s track record remains disappointing and it would appear that much more work must be done.  

This event is designed to open up a discussion on the multi-dimensional nature of the core categories of international offences through a gender perspective to evaluate progress, identify setbacks and explore future options.  What does a gender analysis add to our understanding of these offences?  How can international criminal law better deliver on gender justice?

Speakers:

  • Patricia Viseur Sellers, International Criminal Lawyer 
  • Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center
  • Christine Chinkin,  Professional Research Fellow 

 

Yale Genocide Symposium: Prosecution, Protection, Preservation

From April 19, 2019 10:00 until 17:00

At Watson Center, Yale University

Overview:

The symposium, organized by the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, intends to examine the challenges facing the Yazidi people in the wake of the attempted genocide against the Yazidi initiated by ISIL in August 2014. Presentations may explore novel conceptual and theoretical approaches as well as case studies with broader implications.  Nadia Murad, Recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, will deliver the keynote address.  

Speakers:

Prosecution Issues: Focusing on strategies to pursue the perpetrators of the genocide

  • Kjell Anderson, Instructor in Peace & Conflict Studies, University of the Fraser Valley
  • Naomi Kikoler, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide
  • Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center
  • Grant Shubin, Deputy Legal Director at the Global Justice Center

Protection At Home and Abroad: Focusing on the challenges facing asylum-seekers abroad, and risks to the community in Iraq

  • Emily Feldman, Journalist and Editor
  • James Freda, Human Rights Officer at the United Nations Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict
  • Melinda Taylor, Counsel in International Criminal Law and Human Rights

Preservation of Culture and Society at Home and Abroad: Focusing on the need to preserve and promote Yazidi culture, and the strategies for doing so

  • Tutku Ayhan, PhD Candidate in Security Studies at the University of Central Florida
  • Matthew Barber, PhD Candidate in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, University of Chicago
  • Güley Bor, Researcher at the Conflict Research Programme-Iraq
  • Salema Mirza, Instructor and Advisor at the Yazidi Cultural Center and Volunteer at Yazda

Myanmar and Accountability for Grave Crimes

From April 10, 2019 12:00 pm until 1:30 pm

At American University Washington College of Law, Room NTO1

Co-hosted by the Global Justice Center, War Crimes Research Office at American University Washington College of Law, and Human Rights Watch

Since August 2016, Myanmar's security forces have conducted a systematic campaign of brutal violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority, escalating decades-long policies of persecution and discrimination. While all members of the Rohingya population were targeted for violence, gender was integral to how the atrocities were perpetrated.

Justice for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity is unlikely in Myanmar's domestic courts. So what are the options for justice? Please join us for an important discussion of opportunities and challenges for accountability in Myanmar with:

Panel:

  • Stephen Rapp, former United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues
  • Akila Radhakrishnan, President, Global Justice Center
  • Param-Preet Singh, Associate Director in the International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch
  • Naomi Kikoler, Deputy Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Moderated by:

  • Susana SáCouto, Director, War Crimes Research Office at American University Washington College of Law

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Lunch will be served. Please RSVP at https://www.wcl.american.edu/secle/registration and see the attached flyer for more information.

Download Invitation