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Global Justice Center Blog

Symposium on the Current Crisis in Myanmar: Untangling Myanmar’s Credentials Battle and the Implications for International Justice

Excerpt of Opinio Juris article by GJC Legal Director Grant Shubin.

Of the many perspectives offered by outside observers in the wake of the Myanmar military’s (Tatmadaw’s) attempted coup, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights cogently cut to the core of it: “This crisis was born of impunity.” 

As if to tacitly acknowledge this fact, in his first speech since illegally deposing democratically elected officials, Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing told the people of Myanmar that, “no one is above the law”. He went on, “no one or no organization is above the national interest in state-building and nation-building.” But, of course, the Tatmadaw and Min Aung Hlaing have for a generation been above the law. 

This impunity, which finds its roots in the military’s privileged position baked into Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution as well as in the international community’s mortgage on Aung San Suu Kyi’s ability to politically navigate the country out of the military’s grips, was nevertheless beginning to show cracks.  And it is these cracks that make the crisis within the crisis—the question of who is credentialed to represent Myanmar at the UN General Assembly, the representative of the National Unity Government or the junta—so urgent. 

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Gender and Genocide in the 21st Century: Gender Analysis of Contemporary Genocides

The recent and/or ongoing asserted genocides of the Uyghurs, Rohingya, Yazidis, and Tigrayans all include, prominently, allegations of sexual violence and, in some instances, prevention of births. But whether these are discrete prohibited acts or elements thereof, or should be viewed in composite or as evidence of the intent to destroy the group in whole or in part depends upon a fulsome analysis. This panel of experts will use gendered legal analyses to examine the similarities and differences of each manifestation, and whether or not there are elements that are more or less difficult to discern.

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Gender and Genocide in the 21st Century: How Gender Shapes Genocide

In 2014, ISIS soldiers massacred Yazidi men and boys, while the women and girls of child-bearing age were separated and distributed around the region to ISIS soldiers to be their slaves. In 2017, Myanmar's military used rape and sexual mutilation as weapons of war against Rohingya women fleeing for their lives. As a result of the Chinese Communist Party's coercive birth prevention programs targeting the Uyghurs and other minorities over the last several years, the estimated population loss from suppressed birth rates in southern Xinjiang alone ranges between 2.6 and 4.5 million. Beginning in 2020, armed forces in Ethiopia have used rape and sexual violence to inflict lasting physical and psychological damage not only on victims, but on whole communities. In this discussion, Akila Radhakrishnan and Emily Prey will examine the oft-overlooked, under-litigated gendered dynamics of genocide, why it is so crucial to engage in gendered analyses, and what state parties to the Genocide Convention, including the United States, can do to further these conversations.

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Jackson v. Dobbs - Amicus Brief

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

Near-categorical bans on abortions will have a significant, real, and negative impact on the health of pregnant individuals.

The worst such impacts will be borne by marginalized groups, including people living in economic poverty and by Black, Indigenous, and people of color. These are the very groups whose health the law should protect. Banning abortion does the opposite.

In-country after country, abortion bans have not led to a decrease in the number of abortions, but rather an increase in the number of unsafe abortions—especially affecting people of limited means.

These risks are neither theoretical nor conjectural. In countries across the world, including Romania, South Africa, El Salvador, and Ecuador, there is a statistical relationship between the imposition of restrictive abortion legislation and increases in maternal mortality and morbidity. The lesson for this case is clear: If an abortion ban like H.B. 1510 is upheld, more women in Mississippi are likely to die.

Consistent with these findings, countries around the world allow abortion on broad grounds.

Amicus briefs submitted in support of Petitioners claim that most countries ban or severely restrict abortion. That assertion distorts reality. In fact, a strong majority of women of reproductive age—approximately 60%—live in countries where abortion is available upon request or otherwise broadly available on a variety of social, economic, and health grounds.

By contrast, just a handful of countries, representing 5% of women of reproductive age, ban abortion without exception. Mississippi’s H.B. 1510 is an unmistakable step in this latter direction, away from the global norm and towards this small minority position.

Furthermore, where only economically developed or highly developed countries are considered, an even more robust consensus emerges. Of the 36 highly developed countries, 34 offer abortion on broadly available grounds. A significant number of nations offer abortions free of charge to low-income pregnant individuals.

International law coheres with these trends in comparative law. Contrary to amicus briefs submitted supporting Petitioners, international human rights law recognizes the well-known risks created by restrictive abortion legislation and requires states to ensure abortion access.

Access to safe and lawful abortion services is firmly rooted in the rights to life; to non-discrimination; to be free from torture, cruel, and degrading treatment; and to privacy. These rights are recognized in international human rights treaties ratified by the United States, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Against Torture. The United States cannot, given its international obligations, enact legislation that transgresses these commitments. Banning abortion clearly does so.

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Open Letter in Support of Continuing Recognition of Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun as Myanmar’s Permanent Representative at the UN General Assembly

Excellencies,

We, the undersigned, representing a broad movement of 358 Myanmar and international civil society organizations, urge you to ensure that the current Permanent Representative (PR) of Myanmar to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun, retains his position as Myanmar’s representative to the UN for the upcoming 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), scheduled to begin on 14 September 2021.

Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun is the incumbent representative of Myanmar and he represented Myanmar throughout the 75th session of the UNGA after his credentials were accepted by the Credentials Committee in November 2020 and approved by the UNGA on 1 December (A/RES/75/19). He was appointed as Myanmar’s PR to the UN by the democratically elected government of Myanmar, which had held office since 2016. His credentials were renewed by the current duly elected government of Myanmar.

The new government, which won in a free, fair and credible general election in November 2020, was due to be formed in February 2021 and take office in March. The general election, which was observed by accredited international election monitoring bodies including the Asian Network for Free Elections and the Carter Center, certified that the election reflected the will of the people of Myanmar. However, on 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military launched a coup, physically prevented the scheduled session of the new parliament and forcibly detained elected members of Parliaments.

Read the Full Letter