Amidst new and renewed attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights, it is more important than ever for humanitarian aid policies to explicitly include abortion services.
Recent reports detailing the heinous human rights abuses committed in Rakhine State in Burma have triggered calls for perpetrators to be held accountable, both domestically and internationally. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) has opened a preliminary examination1 and the UN Human Rights Council has established an investigative mechanism to collect, preserve, and analyze evidence of crimes.2 International action is not only justified but absolutely necessary given the impossibility of holding perpetrators to account using domestic justice mechanisms. Decades of unchecked human rights abuses against ethnic groups in other areas of Burma and deeply-entrenched domestic structural barriers preventing accountability have emboldened the military and contributed to the current crisis. Without international action to address and tackle Burma’s culture of impunity and the structural barriers that underpin them, this pattern will likely continue unabated.
This Fact Sheet details the domestic structural barriers that impede accountability for perpetrators and preclude justice for victims of human rights abuses in Burma. These obstacles, formalized with the “adoption” by a spurious referendum of a new Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (the “Constitution”) in 2008, prevent any full accounting for human rights violations committed by the military (the “Tatmadaw” or “Defense Forces”) in Burma. Obstacles outlined in this Fact Sheet include: (1) constitutional supremacy and autonomy of the military; (2) constitutional guarantees of impunity; (3) military emergency powers; and (4) lack of an independent and accountable judicial system.
Understanding the domestic structural impediments to accountability for the military is crucial to understanding the circumstances that give rise to these offenses and lead to the inevitable conclusion that unless these barriers are dismantled, human rights abuses will go unpunished and a true democracy will not take hold in Burma. Moreover, a situation of national unrest gives the military great powers under the Constitution capable of emboldening and further empowering the military.
While the increasingly volatile situation and humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State highlight military abuses and impunity, the Tatmadaw has for decades engaged in armed conflict with multiple ethnic groups in Burma. These long-running conflicts are characterized by human rights abuses perpetrated by the military that have gone unpunished and continue today in multiple regions, including Shan and Kachin states. The situation in Rakhine State must be understood not in isolation but as part of a continuum, and as another example of how impunity for human rights abuses committed by the military is the rule, not the exception, in Burma.
Exporting Censorship: How U.S. Anti-Abortion Policy Violates International Laws on Freedom of Speech and Association
U.S. abortion restrictions on foreign aid impact the freedoms of speech and association and prevent women from accessing necessary healthcare, limit democratic debate, and restrain other countries from complying with their human rights obligations. In short, they violate international law.
This factsheet outlines IHL’s various provisions that protect abortion services for female victims of conflict.
There is a global consensus that the mass rape of girls and women is routinely used as a tactic or “weapon” of war in contemporary armed conflicts.1 Despite two decades of intense global efforts, rape used as a tactic of war continues undeterred. This is not surprising: rape is a cheap, powerful, and effective tool for military forces to use to kill and mutilate women and children, force pregnancy, terrorize families and communities, demoralize enemy forces, and accomplish genocide.
Rape used to further military objectives or the strategic aims of a conflict (“strategic rape”), constitutes a prohibited tactic or method of warfare under international humanitarian law.
The GJC publishes this fact sheet explaining the legal obligation of states to prevent (not just punish) genocide. Burma is now the number one state in the world at risk of genocide; it is therefore the obligation of all states to act against genocide in Burma.
The Burmese military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), continues to exercise dictatorial control over the lives of the people of Burma as it has done with impunity over forty years. The junta routinely employs torture, rape, slavery, murder, forced displacement, and mass imprisonment to consolidate its power and silence any dissent. These acts are criminal violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
The GJC publishes a fact sheet on unequal access to justice in the Middle East.
This fact sheet lists 3 of the obstacles women face in gaining equal access to justice in the Middle East: Penal Codes/Laws, Customary and Social Practices and Limited Judicial Participation. It also provides a table with a list of Middle Eastern countries that have ratified CEDAW, and their policies on women's participation in the judiciary (i.e. whether it is permitted, and what limitations are involved).
This fact sheet provides information on the Gonzales decision, and how it "opens the door to more criminal laws regulation reproductive rights on theological, ideological and/or moral grounds." The fact sheet also lists the four pillars of Roe, and four phony wars: The Federal ERA, The US Ratification of CEDAW, "Roe v Wade" as it stands today is no right to fight for and the Global Gag Rule.
The GJC publishes a fact sheet on the Anfal decision.
The Anfal decision was made by the IHT, in prosecuting crimes committed under the Anfal campaign against Iraq's Kurdish population. The decision is a step in the right direction for women's rights in Iraq. This fact sheet gives information on the decision, including rape as torture, rape as genocide, joint criminal enterprise and rape, and how the IHT can be a vehicle for legal reform both in Iraq and internationally.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines discrimination against women and requires states not only to prohibit discrimination but also to take affirmative steps in order to achieve gender equality. The Convention is legally binding upon States that have ratified the Convention and any laws in violation of CEDAW must be struck down.
CEDAW has been used to support affirmative action policies and programs as well as to strike down laws that are in violation of the Convention. These cases carry significant import: the application of CEDAW in domestic courts gives CEDAW legitimacy globally and reinforces the principal that domestic courts are bound by international treaties such as CEDAW.
Criminal Accountability for Heinous Crimes in Burma: A Joint Project of the Global Justice Center and the Burma’s Lawyer’s Council
The Global Justice Center and the Burma Lawyers' Council publish, in a joint project, this fact sheet on criminal accountability for heinous crimes in Burma.
This fact sheet gives information on the project on criminal accountability, and states that the Security Council should end the impunity accorded the Burmese military junta for crimes perpetrated against the people of Burma, as well as establish an Independent Commission of Inquiry. The fact sheet also explains the Security Council's Obligation to Act under Chapter VII.
2006: This fact sheet contains a summary of reported incidents of rape and gender-based abuse in Iraq during the Saddam regime.
2006: A fact sheet on how the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women can be used to advocate for women's reproductive rights, including abortion.
2006: A fact sheet on how to use international law to improve gender equality and ensure women's participation.
The effort to achieve peace, security and democracy in Burma (called Myanmar by the current government) is an on-going battle against a repressive and brutal military regime. Burma is presently controlled by the SPDC, a military regime that took over Burma by force and refused to turn over power to the National Democratic League, the democratically elected government led by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Sui Kyi. A major part of the effort to achieve peace, security and democracy in Burma (Myanmar) is the struggle by the women of Burma to change strongly-held ideas about women’s role in society, including the belief that women do not belong in political leadership and should be subordinate to men. Within this movement, the Global Justice Center advises the Women’s League of Burma on how to use international law to ensure the inclusion of women in all aspects of the democracy-building process. In addition, the Global Justice Center looks for new and creative ways to use international law to address the widespread rape of ethnic women by the military.
2006: A fact-sheet on the trainings on gender justice in Iraq conducted by the Global Justice Center, in partnership with the Women's Alliance for a Democratic Iraq and the International Coordination for Gender Justice in Iraq.