Examining gender dimensions of crimes against humanity: WPS Lunchtime Discussion

Opening Remarks:

Dame Barbara Woodward, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations


Akila Radhakrishnan, President, Global Justice Center

Emily Kenney, Policy Specialist, Rule of Law and Transitional Justice, UN Women

Moon Nay Li, a Joint General Secretary of the Women's League of Burma (WLB)

May Sabe Phyu, Director, Gender Equality Network (GEN) Myanmar

Outcomes from Strategizing a New Response to the Crisis in Myanmar


On October 27, 2022, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Global Justice Center convened a private roundtable discussion with international and Myanmar civil society representatives. Participants sought to strategize a new, multidimensional response to the crisis in Myanmar to inform advocacy and legal strategies. While the conversation touched upon a range of issues, discussion focused on the topics of: (1) elections; (2) creating an inclusive Myanmar; (3) justice and accountability; and (4) sanctions and arms. This discussion also incorporated aspects of an AJC-sponsored regional meeting on October 3 that explored similar issues. The following is a reflection of key themes, points, and recommendations from the roundtable, which took place under Chatham House rule. 


Participants discussed the military junta’s pursuit of elections, which are scheduled to be held in the summer of 2023 in accordance with the 2008 Constitution. With the election date fast approaching, civil society will need to act quickly to counter the junta.

A key discussion concerned the necessary messaging from civil society to explain to the international community the risks associated with legitimizing any elections run by the military. Undoubtedly, any elections held by the junta in the present circumstances will be neither free nor fair, and participants reflected that the military is using elections as an “off-ramp” to gain international legitimacy after its less-than-successful coup. Holding sham elections to legitimize its power and priorities is not a new strategy for the junta, as seen in previous instances including the 2008 constitutional referendum in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, as well as the 2010 general election. Notably, the junta does not have effective control over the entire territory of Myanmar, with the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) and ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) controlling about half the country, especially in rural areas, inhibiting the junta’s ability to hold elections in many parts of the country. One area of difficulty for some actors in the international community is the fact that as the National Unity Government (NUG) and National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) continue their work to solidify their footing, for some states, they do not present a clear alternative to the junta; as such, the elections, even if flawed, are seen as progress in a seemingly intractable situation. Overall, participants agreed that junta-run elections are not a solution to the current crisis; in fact, they will likely lead to increased tension and violence, and an increased risk of atrocity crimes in the country. 

Download Full Factsheet 

The Global Justice Center Marks Two Years Since the Military Coup in Myanmar

NEW YORK — The Global Justice Center today joins human rights organizations around the world by standing in solidarity with the people of Myanmar on the second anniversary of a coup carried out by the country’s military.

Since the military junta assumed power on February 1, 2021, it has executed a campaign of violence and persecution across the country to silence opposition and subjugate the population. Reports of the most serious international crimes, including political executions, arbitrary detention, and sexual violence, have become routine.

Despite an international response that has included bi-lateral sanctions and condemnation, the military junta shows no signs of relinquishing power.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“We stand in solidarity today with everyone struggling to survive in a Myanmar riven by military violence and domination. As we mark the anniversary of the junta’s brazen seizure of power, it’s critical we reflect on the international community’s myriad failures in response to a crisis that remains as urgent today as it was two years ago.

“Local women’s rights activists that have spent decades fighting for human rights in Myanmar tell us that they are exhausted. The cycle of relentless military violence and subsequent international inaction has left them increasingly doubtful that the world will live up to its legal and moral duty to act. Meanwhile, the military, emboldened by the international community’s failures, is preparing to solidify their rule with a charade they are calling an election.

“Despite this dire state of affairs, it is never too late for the international community to learn from its mistakes. The UN Security Council could follow its recent and first-ever resolution on Myanmar with a comprehensive and ongoing plan of action that includes measures like a global arms embargo and a referral to the International Criminal Court. Donors could scale up cross-border humanitarian assistance. It’s time we all make the prevention of a third year of military rule a global priority.”

New Filing in Argentinian Genocide Case Against Myanmar Military Presents Recommendations for Treatment of Sexual Violence Victims

BUENOS AIRES/NEW YORK — The Global Justice Center and the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) today submitted recommendations to the Argentinian judiciary in a case brought against Myanmar military leaders for the genocide of the Rohingya.

The case was filed by BROUK and launched by the Second Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court in 2021 under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows any court to prosecute certain human rights abuses, regardless of where they were committed.

Today’s submission seeks to prepare the court for testimony from victims of sexual violence. It presents internationally-recognized principles for interviewing and engaging with victims. The submission also sets out standards for how the court should asses evidence of sexual violence.

Tun Khin, BROUK President, issued the following statement:

“More than five years after the genocide of the Rohingya, this case represents a crucial path to justice for crimes committed in Myanmar, particularly for victims of sexual violence. The Argentinian courts have an opportunity to be on the right side of history and provide justice that, until now, has seemed illusive.”

Angela Mudukuti, Senior Legal Advisor with the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Supporting victims of sexual violence, and our partners BROUK in their quest for justice, is of the utmost importance to the Global Justice Center. We submitted these recommendations because, historically, courts all over the world have failed to engage with victims and survivors of sexual violence in a way that avoids retraumatization and gives their testimony the weight it deserves. We remain hopeful that our submission will support the Argentinian judiciary in treating survivors and victims with dignity.”

Global Justice Center Submission to Argentinian Judiciary on Best Practice For Engaging With Victims and Witnesses of Sexual Violence


The Global Justice Center (GJC) hereby respectfully submits its recommendations to assist this Honorable Court in the interests of justice. GJC has not received any financial or economic support from any parties to the proceedings and will gain no patrimonial benefits no matter the outcome of the proceedings. 


Sexual violence “has been particularly egregious” in Myanmar and warrants this Honorable Court’s attention. The purpose of this submission is twofold to: present this Court with the international and regionally recognized principles and practices in relation to interviewing and engaging with victims and witnesses of sexual violence and; to set out international and regional standards applicable to assessing evidence of sexual violence.

Read Full Legal Filing 

UN Security Council Passes First-Ever Resolution on Myanmar

NEW YORK  — The United Nations Security Council today passed a resolution urging an end to the crisis in Myanmar. Despite decades of human rights abuses by the military, including the 2017 genocide of the Rohingya and the 2021 military coup, today’s resolution is the first the Security Council has passed on the situation in Myanmar.

Passed without opposition and three abstentions, the resolution “expressed deep concern” at the ongoing state of emergency imposed by the military and its impact on civilians. It stressed the need for humanitarian access to the country and the release of political prisoners.

The resolution also set a timeframe for future Security Council attention, requesting a report from the UN Secretary General or the Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar by March 15, 2023. 

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Today’s resolution is long overdue, but it’s still a critical step forward for a Security Council whose silence on Myanmar had long supported global inaction and continued a cycle of impunity in the face of staggering human rights abuses. We know the Security Council has a legal and moral responsibility to respond to the crisis in Myanmar. And this resolution offers some reassurance that Council members understand this fact.

“However, we can’t deny that Council members missed an opportunity for more robust action. Most important was their failure to create a mechanism for regular reporting on the situation in Myanmar. This is a crisis that is continuously evolving and deepening. So it is urgent that Council members treat this resolution as a first step by developing a comprehensive and ongoing plan of action.”

Impunity in Myanmar, 5 Years After Genocide

On August 25, 2017, the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, escalated a genocidal campaign in Rakhine State against the Muslim Rohingya community. Despite a case at the International Court of Justice, international investigations, and efforts to pursue justice under universal jurisdiction, there has been little progress in achieving accountability. In the face of serious obstacles, including the Tatmadaw’s February 2021 coup, civil society leaders are leading the charge for accountability and fighting for a peaceful future in Myanmar.

This discussion focused on the urgent need to combat impunity in Myanmar and mitigate ongoing mass atrocity risks in the country.


  • Robert Rae, Ambassador, Canadian Mission to the United Nations
  • Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar
  • Naomi Kikoler, Director, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, US Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Akila Radhakrishnan, President, Global Justice Center
  • Yasmin Ullah, Rohingya human rights activist, feminist, and poet
  • Naw Hser Hser, General Secretary, Women’s League of Burma

The Rohingya Genocide — 5 Years Later

The Rohingya genocide began on August 25, 2017. The so-called “clearance operations” were marked by murder, sexual violence, and community destruction on a massive scale. UN experts, the United States government, and others have recognized this genocide. Yet, justice continues to be denied to the Rohingya.

Along with our partners at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, we commemorate this historic crime and continue to stand in solidarity with the Rohingya and their struggle for justice.

International Court of Justice Rejects Procedural Objections From Myanmar in Genocide Case

NEW YORK — The International Court of Justice today issued a ruling that rejected “preliminary objections” raised by Myanmar in its genocide case. The case brought by The Gambia to hold Myanmar accountable for its 2017 genocide of the Rohingya will now move on to the merits phase.

Preliminary objections are typically filed to raise procedural issues. Among other things, Myanmar objected to the court’s jurisdiction as well as The Gambia’s standing to bring the case. For more on preliminary measures, see this recent Q&A on the case.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Since its genocide of the Rohingya nearly five years ago, Myanmar’s military junta has done whatever it can to avoid or delay international accountability for its crimes. The court’s ruling today rejects Myanmar’s latest delay tactic, advancing this critical vehicle for justice.

“This court has rejected the military junta at every turn. In its hearings and order on provisional measures, the court already considered and rejected many of these procedural objections from Myanmar. In issuing provisional measures, the court also found that serious risks of genocide still existed for the Rohingya and ordered Myanmar to take steps to prevent genocide. The fact is, Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention and it can’t avoid accountability any longer.

“Since it seized power in a coup last February, the military junta’s violence and criminality has only deepened. Though we’ve seen strong condemnation and some bare accountability measures from the international community, the people of Myanmar continue to suffer under this brutal regime. And though this case is just one of many roads toward justice, its resolution would be a major step towards justice and a sustainable, democratic Myanmar.”

Justice for Ongoing Rohingya Genocide

The seminar coincides with the six months reporting deadline of Myanmar to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Gambia v. Myanmar Rohingya Genocide. BROUK will also publish its own report to show the real situation on the ground in Rakhine State, and how the genocide of the Rohingya is ongoing.


AKILA RADHAKRISHNAN is the President of the Global Justice Center (GJC). She directs GJC’s strategies and efforts to establish legal precedents protecting human rights and ensuring gender equality.


NAOMI KIKOLER is the director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. As the Center’s deputy director she led Center’s policy engagement with the United States government and work on Bearing Witness countries, including undertaking the documentation of the commission of genocide by ISIS.

ZOYA PHAN is Campaigns Manager at the advocacy organisation Burma Campaign UK, and co-founder of the charity, Phan Foundation.

TUN KHIN is an ethnic Rohingya Muslim from Arakan (Rakhine) State in Myanmar, the President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) and a prominent activist for the Rohingya people.

TOMAS QUINTANA, Argentinian lawyer and lead counsel in the current Universal Jurisdiction case pending in Argentina; UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in North Korea and former UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar.

U.S. Says Myanmar Military Committed Genocide Against Rohingya

Excerpt of Wall Street Journal article that quotes Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Calls to prosecute Myanmar’s generals have grown since February last year, when the military overthrew the civilian government of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. The military has since been accused of more abuses including arbitrary arrests, custodial torture and killing of civilians.

“This is a welcome, yet long overdue step from the Biden administration,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “The same military who committed genocide against the Rohingya are those who are illegally in power as a result of a military coup—the cycle of impunity must be broken.”

In October 2016 and August 2017, Myanmar’s armed forces launched what they called “clearance operations” in response to attacks on state security forces by Rohingya insurgents in the country’s western state of Rakhine. Independent investigators from the U.S. and the U.N. concluded that Myanmar troops committed widespread atrocities: Civilians were tortured and killed, women were gang raped and children and elderly people were burned alive as entire villages were razed.

Read the article

United States to Designate Crimes Against Rohingya as Genocide

NEW YORK — Reports surfaced today that the United States will formally determine that atrocities committed against the Rohingya minority by Myanmar’s military in northern Rakhine State amount to genocide and crimes against humanity. The Biden administration will officially announce the designation tomorrow.

Akila Radhakrishnan, President of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“This is a welcome, yet long overdue step from the Biden administration. Recognizing the crimes against Rohingya for what they are — a genocide — is necessary if the world hopes to marshal a swift and appropriate response. So it’s absolutely crucial that this designation is followed by a renewed campaign of action from the United States to hold the military accountable. The same military who committed genocide against the Rohingya are those who are illegally in power as a result of a military coup — the cycle of impunity must be broken.

“Powerful measures the US could take include pushing the UN Security Council to refer the crisis to the International Criminal Court, taking the lead in demanding a global arms embargo, and securing humanitarian access to vulnerable populations in the country.

“Any such renewed effort from the US should also explicitly recognize the gendered nature of this genocide. The military’s systemic use of sexual and other gendered violence is critical to understanding both the Rohingya genocide and its ongoing post-coup crimes.”

Avenues to Accountability for Sexual Violence in Myanmar

The Myanmar military and security forces have used on sexual violence as a tactic to terrorize civilians, especially ethnic minorities and women, girls, and gender-diverse people. Sexual violence was also a hallmark of the Rohingya genocide, as confirmed by the UN Fact-Finding Mission in 2017. Even before the February 2021 military coup, accountability within Myanmar was virtually unattainable; however, a number of avenues for justice exist at the international level. This panel will provide an opportunity to hear from local and international experts on potential avenues to justice and accountability for sexual violence crimes in Myanmar.

  • Akila Radhakrishnan (Moderator)
  • Wai Wai Nu, Founder, Women's Peace Network
  • Esther Ze Naw, Youth Coordinator, Kachin Peace Network
  • Naw Wah Ku Shee, Coordinator, Karen Peace Support Network
  • Ambassador Kelley Currie, Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues

Watch the Webinar

Myanmar’s military has spent the year since the coup searching for international legitimacy. It has not found it.

Excerpt of Washington Post article that quotes Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Lawyers for the Gambia argued this week that “now, even more than before, justice within Myanmar is impossible,” using the coup to argue that there cannot and will not be any resolution or accountability for the Rohingya inside the country. The risks that the Rohingya face, the lawyers added, have only intensified since the coup with armed conflicts raging all over the country.

The hearings — only the third genocide case the court has ever heard — show the military “that they will get hauled into court to respond to their actions,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center.

“This is a military that has for decades committed crimes, and has intensified their crimes, toward the population at large,” she said. She and others believe the case is very likely to go ahead, particularly without the civilian government led by Suu Kyi to protect and shelter the military, though a resolution could take years.

Read the article

The Path Forward for the Rohingya Community

The Rohingya community has long suffered under the Myanmar government’s decades-long policies of persecution against them, which were only exacerbated during and in the wake of the 2017 acts of genocide against them. Today, over a million Rohingya remain outside Myanmar, and an additional 600,000 in Rakhine continue to suffer. Following the February 2021 military coup, the prospect of Rohingyas’ safe return to Myanmar is even more precarious, as is the situation of those still in the country. This panel is an opportunity for international policymakers and advocates to hear directly from Rohingya leaders about challenges currently facing the community, and how the international community can best support the Rohingya people.

Watch the Webinar

Justice for Myanmar, at the ICJ and Beyond

After over 60 years of serious human rights abuses and mass atrocities, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by Myanmar’s military, it is only recently that the international community has taken steps to hold the Tatmadaw to account. Impunity has emboldened the military and was an enabling factor for the military’s February 2021 coup. While at present, international accountability efforts are focused on justice for the Rohingya, however, these cases importantly break the cycle of impunity and lay the groundwork for accountability for other communities in Myanmar, including crimes against other ethnic groups, as well as crimes committed in the context of the coup.

This panel will explore how the ICJ proceedings complement other international accountability efforts, and discuss how they can inform future cases and investigations against the Myanmar military.

Watch the Webinar

BBC Radio: International Court of Justice Hearings Begin

Excerpt of BBC Radio segment featuring Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan.

Also on the programme, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the lifting of all Covid rules including the need to self-isolate after testing positive with the virus; and, Myanmar is back in The Hague over its genocide of the Rohingya but this time with a new leadership.

Listen to the segment

Myanmar junta takes place of Aung San Suu Kyi at Rohingya hearing

Excerpt of The Guardian article that quotes Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Centre, said she did not believe the junta’s appearance before the court would lend legitimacy to the military. It was likely to simply reflect a continuation of the status quo in court procedures, she said.

Radhakrishnan added: “There is such a strong link between impunity and the coup occurring, and the fact that the military has very rarely faced any direct consequences, that I think there is import to the fact that they are learning that they will be hauled into court – and this time around, unlike 2019, they can’t hide behind Aung San Suu Kyi and the civilian government.”

Read the Article

‘Important opportunity’: Myanmar Rohingya genocide case to resume

Excerpt of Al Jazeera article that quotes Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan

Rohingya and rights groups say despite the issue of representation, the case has gained added urgency because of the crackdown on the anti-coup movement since February 1, 2021. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which has been tracking developments, says more than 1,560 people have been killed since the generals seized power, and that violence has also increased in ethnic minority areas.

“As the Myanmar military continues to commit atrocities against anti-coup protesters and ethnic minorities, it should be put on notice there will be consequences for these actions – past, present, and future,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “The ICJ’s proceedings are laying the groundwork for accountability in Myanmar – not only for the Rohingya, but for all others who have suffered at the hands of the military.”

Read the Article