ICJ’s ruling on Myanmar Rohingya

  • IASbaba
  • January 25, 2020
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Human Rights/ Refugee

Topic:General Studies 3:

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

ICJ’s ruling on Myanmar Rohingya

In an unanimously-ruled order issued by a panel of 17 judges, The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) upheld the provisions of the 1948 Genocide Convention – saying Myanmar had “caused irreparable damage to the rights of the Rohingya”.

What is Rohingya issue?

  • An estimated 7.3 lakh Rohingya(Muslim minorities in Buddhist majority Myanmar) have fled to Bangladesh since 2017 
  • The crisis was triggered when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown on Rohingya villages in the country’s coastal Rakhine state. 
  • In August 2019, the UN said the army’s action was carried out with “genocidal intent”.

Who took the Myanmar to ICJ?

  • It was the Republic of the Gambia which is predominantly Muslim who took Myanmar to ICJ accusing it of genocide on Rohingya 
  • Gambia was backed by the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

What were the orders of ICJ?

  • ICJ has ordered Myanmar to take emergency measures to prevent genocide of the Rohingya. 
  • Myanmar was also ordered to prevent the destruction of evidence and to ensure the preservation of evidence related to the alleged genocide

Is the matter closed?

  • The recent order is a restraining order. It is just a provisional measure.
  • The hearings dealing with the main, and more serious allegations of genocide by the Myanmar military, have not even started. This is expected to linger for years with no quick closures

Quick Fact: So far, only three cases of genocide worldwide have been recognised since World War II: Cambodia (the late 1970s), Rwanda (1994), and Srebrenica, Bosnia (1995)

Proving genocide has been difficult because of the high bar set by its ‘intent requirement’ — that is showing the genocidal acts were carried out with the specific intent to eliminate a people on the basis of their ethnicity

Future Course of action

Myanmar shall submit a report to the ICJ on all measures taken to give effect to the provisional order within four months, and thereafter every six months, until a final decision is passed.

Is the ICJ order binding?

The ruling of the court is binding on Myanmar, and cannot be appealed. However, no means are available to the court to enforce it

What happens if Myanmar doesn’t comply with the provisional measures?

  • When a state fails to comply with ICJ rulings, the UN Security Council has the power to impose sanctions against it and ensure compliance when international security and peace are at stake. 
  • So far, the Security Council has never taken a coercive measure against any country to get an ICJ ruling implemented.
  • Even if it reaches the UNSC, Myanmar has got a friend in China which can veto such proceedings in the council.

Implications of the ruling

  • Seen as the first sign of the victory by Rohingya refugees with an added weight of the unanimity of the ruling
  • Dents the image of Myanmar in international Politics
  • Role of Nobel Laurate Aung San Suu Kyi who personally led Myanmar’s defence at ICJ was not appreciated by international human rights groups. She is an ardent champion of Democracy and is presently leading the government with the support of military
  • However, her defence of military actions at ICJ is highly appreciated domestically which will witness the elections by the end of this year.
  • Strengthening of Myanmar-China ties as China has always supported Military regime of Myanmar.

Connecting the Dots

  • India’s cases at ICJ
  • India’s stand on Rohingya refugees who entered India’s north-east  during this period.

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