According to academics and rights campaigners, the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling has opened up fresh opportunities for the international community to put pressure on the Myanmar military to provide justice for the Rohingyas.
The International Court of Justice ruled on Friday (July 22, 2022) that the Gambia’s case for genocide against Myanmar would proceed despite Myanmar’s preliminary objections to all of it.
According to media reports, Myanmar must now submit its counterargument by April of the following year. The International Court of Justice will then likely issue its ruling by 2024.
According to the reports, the Myanmar military has long-standing records of committing serious human rights crimes. A year after the military took over the democratically elected civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the US also ruled in the early months of this year that the Myanmar army had committed genocide against the Rohingyas.
The National Unity Government (NUG), a parallel administration run in exile by the expelled Suu Kyi party MPs, also vowed to assist the ICJ case and to give the tribunal the required information about the genocide.
Since decades, genocidal atrocities have been committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar, forcing hundreds of thousands of them to migrate to Bangladesh from Rakhine State, where they are denied citizenship and basic rights.
The largest flood, which brought roughly 750,000 Rohingya refugees in 2017, encouraged the Gambia to appeal to the highest UN court in the Hague in November 2019 with help from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) granted the Gambia’s request and imposed provisional measures requiring Myanmar to stop all genocide against the Rohingya, to make sure that its security forces don’t carry out genocide, and to take action to protect any relevant evidence.
The Gambia’s standing in the case and the court’s authority were both contested in preliminary objections filed by Myanmar in January of last year. Myanmar claimed that because the Gambia was not directly affected, the country lacked jurisdiction to file the complaint. Additionally, it contended that the OIC lacked jurisdiction and was in fact the driving force behind the case. The ICJ dismissed each and every defense.
We can see that the ICJ has backed the Rohingya cause from the start. Additionally, it referred to them as Rohingyas, an ethnic identifier. Therefore, this decision is significant for Rohingya justice and their ability to return home. Under pressure from the ICJ ruling, Myanmar will finally take the repatriation of the Rohingya seriously.
Bangladesh will be better able to bargain with Myanmar as a result. However, Bangladesh must exercise caution so that Myanmar does not treat it as a token repatriation. It’s important to deal with the issue’s underlying causes.
In order to make the repatriation process more successful, Bangladesh must also involve nations like China, Japan, and India.
Only the Netherlands and Canada officially joined the Gambia case for holding Myanmar accountable in 2020. Later, the US promised to contribute financially to the case.
It is time for Bangladesh to begin talking to the US and other like-minded countries for them to join the case and make financial contributions.
Given the renewed pressure Myanmar is facing in the wake of the ICJ ruling, they are hopeful that Myanmar will take the required steps to establish favorable conditions for the repatriation of the Rohingya.
Myanmar has not yet put the temporary restrictions that the ICJ set into effect. He claimed that clashes between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military frequently take place in Rakhine State and that the Rohingya community is increasingly suffering as a result.
While more than 130,000 Rohingyas continue to live in camps in Rakhine, the UN and other aid organizations are unable to access these communities freely, which suggests that the Myanmar army continues to disregard the ICJ’s provisional measures.
We urge all UN members to support the Gambia in ending the crimes committed by the Myanmar military.
By holding the military accountable for its atrocities against the Rohingya, the World Court might create the incentive for further international action towards justice for all victims of the Myanmar security forces’ crimes.
According to the HRW, ethnic groupings and human rights advocates in Myanmar have united to struggle for the creation of democratic rule; these efforts are strengthened by the fight for justice at the ICJ.
Concerned governments should formally intervene in the Genocide Convention case if they want to be leaders for accountability in Myanmar.
The case presents an important chance to examine the harsh policies and practices of the Myanmar military that have maintained its control for decades. Now it is high time to mount global pressure on Myanmar to stop atrocities against its people and start Rohingya repatriation shortly from Bangladesh.
We applaud the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision regarding the admissibility of the Rohingya genocide case trial. This gives us optimism that, despite its continued inaction in its repatriation negotiations with Bangladesh, the Myanmar military will not get off easily. The court’s decision opens the door for a full hearing of the matter, which we hope will result in swift justice. Both the trial and resolving the Rohingya situation permanently should be prioritized and given the attention they deserve.
It has been a number of years since the Myanmar military engaged in what has been referred to as “ethnic cleansing” with genocidal intent, a type of crime that has not been seen in the world recently. The World Court dismissed the junta’s arguments on Friday, despite the fact that it has been denying the “genocide” element of the issue. Myanmar’s main defense was that Gambia lacked standing to file the lawsuit in front of the highest UN court. Judge Joan Donoghue, the president of the ICJ, however, made it plain that the court has jurisdiction in this matter and that Gambia can take action to prevent genocide as a state signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Since they were mercilessly killed, raped, and driven from their ancestral homes in Myanmar, the Rohingya people have had to endure a string of tragic events. As they wait in filthy camps in Bangladesh to return home and start a new life, the trauma still plagues them. However, while their fate is being decided, safety, dignity, and integration are crucial, and caution should be taken so that they do not jump from the frying pan into the fire. Undoubtedly, a lasting solution to the problem will depend on the issue of global justice and accountability.
We think all parties concerned should keep their attention on the issue of restoring trust among the Rohingyas, first by achieving prompt justice in the ICJ case and then by making sure their return home is supported by the restoration of their citizenship rights.
In this regard, we want to stress again how crucial it is to begin the repatriation process, which has been dragged out for a few years. The Rohingyas are equally worried, and rightfully so, about what will happen to them in the future in addition to receiving justice for what happened to them in the past. Leaders from around the world cannot support the cause of justice on one front while giving up on it on another.
[Photo by Tasnim News Agency, via Wikimedia Commons]
Dr. Arpita Hazarika is a Gauhati University, Assam, India-based researcher. She is very interested in refugee affairs, political economy, security and strategic affairs, and foreign policies of the Asia-Pacific region. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.