From February 21 to 28, 2022, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, will hold public hearings in the Case of The Gambia v. Myanmar concerning Myanmar’s alleged violations of the Genocide Convention against the ethnic Rohingya population in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. The following questions and answers address key issues regarding those hearings.
1. What is the status of the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice?
In November 2019, Gambia – with the backing of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – filed a case, The Gambia v. Myanmar, before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The case alleged that Myanmar’s atrocities against the ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State violated various provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention). Gambia, which ratified the Genocide Convention in 1978, brought the case under Article 9 of the convention, which allows for disputes between parties “relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide” and related acts to be submitted to the ICJ.
In December 2019, the court held hearings on Gambia’s request for provisional measures to protect the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar from genocide, which the court unanimously adopted in January 2020 (see below). In January 2021, Myanmar, then under the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, filed preliminary objections challenging the court’s jurisdiction and Gambia’s standing to file the case.
On February 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military staged a coup, overthrew the democratically elected government, and replaced it with a military junta, the State Administration Council. The case continues and the ICJ will hold public hearings on Myanmar’s preliminary objections from February 21 to 28, 2022.