Behind Myanmar’s Military Alibi: A Path for Compliance with the ICJ’s Order to Protect Rohingya

Excerpt of Just Security op-ed by GJC's Akila Radhakrishnan and Grant Shubin.

In the wake of the ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Myanmar to prevent genocide against the Rohingya going forward, the initial excitement was tempered by pragmatics—how this important court order can be enforced so that it actually protects the 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Rakhine State.

To be sure, there is no confusion that these measures are binding—as the court noted, they create international legal obligations that require Myanmar’s compliance. But how can the international community guarantee that Myanmar actually does anything? And does Myanmar’s civilian government have the capacity to do what is needed?

The answers to these questions are mixed, generally relying on exertion of geopolitical pressure, including through the United Nations Security Council, to which the order has been transmitted. As a general rule and absent a concrete enforcement mechanism, ICJ orders have a reliable compliance rate. However, looking at the Myanmar case in context, and in particular the measures requiring prevention of the commission of genocide by Myanmar’s military, compliance will require a serious and concerted effort by both the international community and the civilian government.

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Myanmar’s Commission Report Delivers Genocide Denial Playbook

Excerpt of Just Security article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

As Akila Radhakrishnan of the Global Justice Center put it, the ICoE summary is a “masterclass in how to erase the gendered experiences of conflict and genocide.” While the FFM had described “rape and other forms of sexual violence [as] one of the hallmarks of Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) operations,” the ICoE concluded:

“There were no credible statements on allegations of gang rape committed by Myanmar’s security forces. Although some interviewees mentioned rape cases, these were all secondhand information heard from someone else.”

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U.N. Court’s Order on Rohingya Is Cheered, but Will Myanmar Comply?

Excerpt of New York Times article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

“The court confirmed that no matter where genocide occurs, it’s a matter for the entire international community, and that a state does not have to be connected or affected by the genocide in order for them to take action to prevent, end and punish it,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the New York-based Global Justice Center.

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Myanmar ordered to prevent genocide against Rohingya by top UN court

Excerpt of CNN article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, said the ruling was a legal statement and a powerful recognition of what the Rohingya went through.

"It's like a surface affirmation from the court, that kind of the basics of the case have been met," she said. "There's power in acknowledgment, there's power in another country standing up for your rights, taking someone to court, putting a lot behind exposing in a very serious manner what happened. I think that that can't be lost in this."

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International Court of Justice orders Myanmar to prevent genocide against the Rohingya

Excerpt of Washington Post article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Experts in international justice said the court’s ruling that Gambia did indeed have a case against Myanmar set a strong precedent. The decision at the United Nations’ highest court also acknowledged that Rohingya Muslims constitute a vulnerable group that is in need of protection, they said.

“There was a level of complicity that existed around the Rohingya,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, the president of the New York-based Global Justice Center. “The ruling not only sends a signal to Myanmar that its flimsy excuses won’t be accepted, but also sends a signal to the rest of the international community that there are still some serious risks to the Rohingya that must be acted on.”

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Burma urged to take measures to prevent genocide against the Rohingya

Excerpt of Le Monde article that features GJC Deputy Legal Director Grant Shubin.

The decision must now be transmitted to the United Nations Security Council. Grant Shubin, deputy legal director of the Global Justice Center, said: "It is not certain that the Council will take action, particularly because of opposition from China," Burma's ally, "but such a decision constitutes a warning for Burma that the international community is watching.”

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International Court of Justice orders Myanmar to prevent Rohingya genocide

Excerpt of ABC Australia article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The full report is not public, but the Global Justice Centre cast doubt on the commission's independence and said it couldn't provide real accountability.

"All signs point to what human rights experts and Rohingya themselves already know, which is that the government has no intention of bringing perpetrators of mass rape and other genocidal crimes to justice," Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Centre, said.

"This Commission is just yet another domestic attempt to deflect responsibility and whitewash the situation of the Rohingya."

She pointed out that the report "also seemingly fails, like the Government of Myanmar, to use the term 'Rohingya', which continues to deny the identity of the group".

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World Court Orders Interim Protection for Myanmar’s Rohingya

Excerpt of Bloomberg article that features GJC Deputy Legal Director Grant Shubin.

Failure to comply may affect Myanmar’s international standing or prompt reactions in bilateral or multilateral forums, Grant Shubin, deputy legal director of the New York-based Global Justice Center said in an email. ”While there are still several stages of the case that must happen before the court finally decides if Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention, the broader international community should do everything in their power to ensure Myanmar complies with an order,” Shubin added.

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World Court Orders Myanmar to Take Immediate Action to Prevent Genocide

THE HAGUE — The International Court of Justice today ordered Myanmar to take immediate action to prevent genocide.

The “provisional measures” require Myanmar to prevent genocidal acts, ensure military and police forces do not commit genocidal acts, preserve all evidence of genocidal acts, and report on compliance with these provisional measures. The measures are also automatically sent to the UN Security Council.

“Today’s order is a massive step towards justice for the Rohingya that underlines the importance of the global rule of law,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are still under the threat of genocide. Over a million languish in refugee camps far from home. These measures recognize the tremendous urgency of the situation for survivors of sexual violence and other genocidal crimes. It’s now time for the international community, including the Security Council, to act to ensure compliance.”

In its request for provisional measures, The Gambia cited the findings of the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, which reported in September that the Rohingya remaining inside Myanmar “live under the threat of genocide.” Countries on the UN Security Council are obligated to prevent and punish the crime of genocide under the Genocide Convention.

“This is the first step on a path to justice for the Rohingya. I hope that all members of the UN Security Council will uphold their moral and political obligation to ensure that the provisional measures ordered by the Court are fully implemented,” said Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. “Those responsible for genocide are still in power in Myanmar. Justice has been delayed but can no longer be denied.”

World Court to Rule on Emergency Measures in Rohingya Genocide Case

Excerpt of Reuters article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Although the Myanmar case in The Hague is only at an early stage, human rights lawyer Akila Radhakrishnan said it has already had an impact.

"Since the case was filed we've seen the government take some action to ensure accountability, like issuing a court martial. Now the military justice system is deeply flawed but its something that wasn't there before," she said.

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The Rohingya genocide: A crisis we’ve stopped talking about

Excerpt of The New Daily article that features a GJC tweet.

The Nobel peace prize Laureate, once heralded as a human rights champion, also said the government was working to boost “social cohesion” between the Rohingya people and the rest of the country.

“Mr President, how can there be an ongoing genocide or genocidal intent when these concrete steps are being taken in Rakhine?” she said.

Human rights groups have refuted Ms Suu Kyi’s version of events.

The Global Justice Centre slammed her picture of an internal military conflict with “no genocidal intent” against the Rohingya as “completely false”.

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ICJ Provisional Measures Hearings: Rohingya Right of Reply

December 11 2019 1:15pm CET

The Global Justice Center co-hosted a side event where representatives of the Rohingya community discussed two days of oral arguments at the International Court of Justice in the genocide case against Myanmar.

Speakers included:

  • Razia Sultana, Founder, Rohingya Women Welfare Society
  • Yasmin Ullah, Research Coordinator, Free Rohingya Coalition
  • Tun Khin, President, Burmese Rohingya Organization UK
  • Myra Dahgaypaw, Policy Advocate, US Campaign for Burma
  • Wai Wai Nu, Founder, Women's Peace Network

 

Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Military Against Genocide Charges

Excerpt of Bloomberg article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Following the speech, Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan said in a statement Suu Kyi’s depiction of an internal military conflict “with no genocidal intent against the Rohingya is completely false.”

“Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians,” Radhakrishnan said. “This is genocide and it’s precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent.”

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi says genocide claims are 'misleading'

Excerpt of CNN article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Following the presentation, the Global Justice Center said the picture Suu Kyi built up of an "internal military conflict with no genocidal intent" was "completely false."

"Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians. The government has discriminated against the Rohingya for decades. This is genocide and it's precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent," Akila Radhakrishnan, Global Justice Center President, said in a statement.

Many in the international community have questioned how a Nobel laureate renowned for fighting for democracy and human rights is now justifying her government's persecution of the Muslim minority.

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Rohingya refugees reject Aung San Suu Kyi's 'lies on genocide'

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

Critics describe the army's actions by the army as a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee.

“Aung San Suu Kyi’s picture of an internal military conflict with no genocidal intent against the Rohingya is completely false," Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center in New York, said in a statement to Al Jazeera.

"Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians.

"The government has discriminated against the Rohingya for decades. This is genocide and it’s precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent.”

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Aung San Suu Kyi Delivers Opening Arguments in Genocide Case at World Court

THE HAGUE – Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivered opening arguments today at the International Court of Justice in the genocide case against Myanmar filed by The Gambia. 

Suu Kyi and Myanmar are responding to The Gambia’s request for provisional measures, which would impose immediately binding obligations on Myanmar. For more on these measures,please see our Q&A.

Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan issued the following statement:

“Aung San Suu Kyi’s picture of an internal military conflict with no genocidal intent against the Rohingya is completely false. Multiple independent agencies and experts, as well as Rohingya themselves, have documented mass killings, widespread rape, and wholesale destruction of land and property intentionally inflicted on innocent civilians. The government has discriminated against the Rohingya for decades. This is genocide and it’s precisely what the Genocide Convention set out to prevent.”

U.N. high court begins 3-day hearing over Rohingya 'genocide' in Myanmar

Excerpt of UPI article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Along with Suu Kyi, several Rohingya members attended the first day, supported by human rights group Legal Action Worldwide. They arrived from a Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh.

Human rights groups say Rohingya were targeted with random killings, sexual violence, arbitrary detention and torture from Myanmar forces and supporters.

"The international community is many years too late on taking action in Myanmar, but this case represents the first hope in decades for the Rohingya and other persecuted ethnic groups in the country," Akila Radhakrishnan, of the Global Justice Center in New York, said before Tuesday's hearing.

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Hearings Begin in Genocide Case Against Myanmar at World Court

THE HAGUE – The International Court of Justice is holding its first hearing today in the case filed by The Gambia against Myanmar for the genocide of the Rohingya. 

The Gambia will deliver arguments on their request for provisional measures, which would impose immediately binding obligations on Myanmar. For more on these measures,please see our Q&A.

Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan issued the following statement:

"The international community is many years too late on taking action in Myanmar, but this case represents the first hope in decades for the Rohingya and other persecuted ethnic groups in the country. Indiscriminate killings, widespread rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, and torture have been everyday reality in Myanmar for far too long. The court has an opportunity with this case to help end it all."

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi will open Myanmar’s arguments before the court tomorrow. 

Accountability for International Crimes Committed Against Ethnic Minorities in Myanmar: Discussing Complementary Avenues for Justice

December 5 2019 1:15pm CET

At 2019 Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court:
How can potential proceedings at the International Criminal Court (“ICC”), the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”), in third party states under universal jurisdiction and the work of the International Independent Mechanism for Myanmar (“IIMM”) can act in complementarity to bring justice and accountability for Myanmar’s crimes ethnic groups, including the Rohingya?

 

The Story Behind The Gambia’s Lawsuit against Myanmar over the Rohingya Genocide

Excerpt of Inter Press Service article that features GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

“No one has been held accountable,” Akila Radhakrishnan, President of Global Justice Center (GJC), told IPS. “It’s the same forces [that] remain in Rakhine state, they remain kind of [as a] part of the military with no punishment. There’s no feeling that there’s safety and security to go back to Myanmar.”

Radhakrishnan pointed out that even though the lawsuit may be “far away” from when the crisis began, the continued fear of Rohingyas to return to their home shows how deeply the crisis persists. 

“I think there’s a recognition of the impossibility of the return of the Rohingya, a solution to the humanitarian crisis,” she said, adding that the lawsuit will push for the Myanmar government to take actions that focus on changing the laws and policies that enabled the genocide. 

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