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.”

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.

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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.”

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‘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.”

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UN court hearings set to resume into Rohingya genocide case

Excerpt of Associated Press article that quotes Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan

The court didn’t respond to a request for comment on Myanmar’s representation at the hearings.

“What’s really important here is that... if it is the junta that’s in court, this is not something that should be taken to confer legitimacy on the junta,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center.

At public hearings in late 2019, lawyers representing Gambia showed judges maps, satellite images and graphic photos to detail what they called a campaign of murder, rape and destruction amounting to genocide perpetrated by Myanmar’s military.

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February 2022 Q&A: Gambia v. Myanmar (Burmese translation) ဂမ်ဘီယာမှ မြန်မာပြည်ကို အပြည်ပြည်ဆိုင်ရာတရားရုံးတွင် စွပ်စွဲထားသော အမှုနှင့်ပတ်သတ်သည့် နောက်ဆုံး အခြေအနေမ

ဂမ်ဘီယာမှ မြန်မာပြည်ကို အပြည်ပြည်ဆိုင်ရာတရားရုံးတွင် စွပ်စွဲထားသော အမှုနှင့်ပတ်သတ်သည့် နောက်ဆုံး အခြေအနေများ အမေးအဖြေများ ဖေဖော်ဝါရီ ၁၄၊ ၂၀၂၂ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ၊ ရခိုင်ပြည်နယ်မြောက်ပိုင်းရှိ ရိုဟင်ဂျာတိုင်းရင်းသားများအပေါ် စစ်တပ်၏ရက်စက်ကြမ်းကြုတ်မှုများမှာ ဂျန်နိုဆိုက်ရာဇဝတ်မှု ကာကွယ်တားဆီးရေးနှင့် အပြစ်ပေးရေးကွန်ဗန်းရှင်းကို ချိုးဖောက်သည်ဟု ဂမ်ဘီယာနိုင်ငံမှ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံကို စွပ်စွဲထားသည့်အမှုကို ဖေဖော်ဝါရီလ ၂၁ ရက်မှ ၂၈ ရက်အတွင်း နယ်သာလန်နိုင်ငံ၊ သဟိတ်မြို့ ရှိ အပြည်ပြည်ဆိုင်ရာတရားရုံး (ICJ) တွင် လူသိရှင်ကြား ကြားနာမည်ဖြစ်သည်။ ထိုကြားနာမှုနှင့်ပတ်သတ်သော အဓိကအချက်အလက်များကို အောက်ပါအမေးအဖြေများတွင် ဖော်ပြထားသည်။.

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Q&A: Developments in Gambia’s Case Against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice

From February 21 to 28, 2022, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, will hold public hearings in the Case of The Gambia v. Myanmar concerning Myanmar’s alleged violations of the Genocide Convention against the ethnic Rohingya population in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. The following questions and answers address key issues regarding those hearings.

1. What is the status of the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice?

In November 2019, Gambia – with the backing of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – filed a case, The Gambia v. Myanmar,before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The case alleged that Myanmar’s atrocities against the ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State violated various provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention). Gambia, which ratified the Genocide Convention in 1978, brought the case under Article 9 of the convention, which allows for disputes between parties “relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide” and related acts to be submitted to the ICJ.

In December 2019, the court held hearings on Gambia’s request for provisional measures to protect the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar from genocide, which the court unanimously adopted in January 2020 (see below). In January 2021, Myanmar, then under the government led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, filed preliminary objections challenging the court’s jurisdiction and Gambia’s standing to file the case.

On February 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military staged a coup, overthrew the democratically elected government, and replaced it with a military junta, the State Administration Council. The case continues and the ICJ will hold public hearings on Myanmar’s preliminary objections from February 21 to 28, 2022.

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Q&A: Rohingya Genocide Case Steps Toward Justice

International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings beginning February 21, 2022 underline the critical importance of bringing justice for the Myanmar military’s abuses against ethnic Rohingya, Human Rights Watch and the Global Justice Center said today. The groups released a question-and-answer document outlining recent developments in the case, including the impact of the February 1, 2021 military coup in Myanmar, on the ICJ proceedings.

The hearings at the court from February 21 to 28 are for the case brought by Gambia against Myanmar alleging that the military’s atrocities in Rakhine State against Rohingya Muslims violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention).

“The International Court of Justice hearings are the next step in the landmark case to break the cycle of violence and impunity in Myanmar,” said Nushin Sarkarati, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The case could build a pathway to justice, not only for the Rohingya, but for everyone in the country.”

In November 2019, Gambia filed a case before the ICJ alleging that Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine State violate various provisions of the Genocide Convention. The case before the ICJ is not a criminal case against individual alleged perpetrators, but a legal determination of state responsibility for genocide.

The ICJ held hearings in December 2019, on Gambia’s request, for provisional measures to protect the Rohingya remaining in Myanmar from genocide, which the court unanimously adopted in January 2020. The new hearings will cover Myanmar’s preliminary objections to the case, which challenge the court’s jurisdiction and Gambia’s legal standing to file the case.

The court’s provisional measures require Myanmar to prevent all genocidal acts against the Rohingya, to ensure that security forces do not commit acts of genocide, and to take steps to preserve evidence related to the case. Myanmar is legally bound to comply with this order. However, Human Rights Watch and others have documented ongoing grave abuses against the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar, contravening the provisional measures ordered by the court.

Since the February 2021 coup, junta security forces have carried out mass killings, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses that Human Rights Watch believes amount to crimes against humanity. Security forces have killed over 1,500 people since the coup, including at least 100 children, and arbitrarily detained over 11,000 activists, politicians, journalists, and others. Rohingya have also faced even greater movement restrictions and harsher punishments for attempting to leave Rakhine State, which amount to the crimes against humanity of persecution, apartheid, and severe deprivation of liberty.

In 2019, Myanmar’s government appointed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to lead its delegation to the ICJ. During the 2021 coup, the military arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and a junta-controlled court sentenced her to six years in prison. She still faces over 150 years in prison combined on various additional fabricated charges. On June 24, 2021, the junta announced that it appointed a panel of eight senior junta officials to represent Myanmar’s delegation before the court.

During the February hearings, representatives of Myanmar and Gambia will present arguments as to whether the ICJ has jurisdiction to examine the genocide claims against Myanmar. The hearings will take place in a hybrid format, including both in-person and virtual participants. Live streaming of the hearings will be available in English and French on the court’s website and on UN Web TV.

While the ICJ case focuses exclusively on alleged crimes against the Rohingya, the military has committed brutal abuses across Myanmar. In the wake of the coup, ethnic groups have sought greater solidarity in the pursuit of justice, as the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya have been echoed in attacks on civilians around the country. The ICJ case could set the stage to scrutinize the Myanmar military’s longstanding international crimes more widely, Human Rights Watch and the Global Justice Center said.

“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.”

For a question-and-answer document on recent developments on Gambia’s Case Against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice, please visit: https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/02/14/developments-gambias-case-against-myanmar-international-court-justice

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on international justice, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/topic/international-justice    
 
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Myanmar, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/myanmar-burma  

For more on the Global Justice Center’s work on Myanmar, please visit:
https://globaljusticecenter.net/our-work/demanding-justice-for-sexual-and-gender-based-violence/mass-atrocity-crimes

New Hearings Announced in Genocide Case Against Myanmar at World Court

NEW YORK — Reports surfaced today that the International Court of Justice will hold hearings on February 21 in The Gambia’s case against Myanmar for the 2017 genocide of the Rohingya. The hearings — the first since last year’s military coup — will consider Myanmar’s “preliminary objections” to the case.

Preliminary objections are typically filed to raise procedural issues before the court considers the merits of the case. Objections filed by Myanmar likely include challenges to The Gambia’s standing to file the case and to the existence of a dispute with The Gambia. More information on preliminary objections and the military coup’s effect on the case can be found here.

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

“It is important that a critical vehicle to secure accountability for the Rohingya genocide is moving forward, especially after the perpeptrators of this grave crime took power in a coup. The present crisis in Myanmar was born of impunity and it will take accountability at this court and elsewhere to move Myanmar back on the path to democracy.

“Myanmar’s preliminary objections are little more than delay tactics. In its hearings and order on provisional measures, the court already considered and rejected many of these arguments. The fact is Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention and Myanmar will do everything it can to avoid facing justice. And with the news that the military junta will defend in this case, the perpetrators of the Rohingya genocide will now be the one’s physically present in court to answer for their atrocities.

“The military has not only yet to be held accountable for its grievous crimes, but illegally seized power over their country. In its repression of the pro-democracy movement, the military is continuing the human rights abuses that a generation of impunity has afforded. It’s past time for these atrocities to be met with consequences and this case is a vital tool to secure such justice.”

The Ongoing Rohingya Genocide and Opportunities for International Justice in Post-Coup Myanmar

Description:

Since the February 1 military coup in Burma, there has been unprecedented widespread support for justice and accountability for military atrocities perpetrated against the people of Burma. This has included supportive statements from leaders within the pro-democracy National Unity Government (NUG). However, questions remain about how these new calls for accountability will complement and support ongoing efforts for international justice, which focus largely on abuses committed against the Rohingya.

During this online event, activists from Burma will give an update from the ground and international justice experts from around the world will share an update of the ongoing international justice processes against Burma at the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and in Argentinian courts through a Universal Jurisdiction case. Panellists will also share insight on how the NUG could work for international justice efforts to build more solidarity among all of Burma’s people, including the Rohingya and other major ethnic minorities.

Participants will include:

  • Akila Radhakrishnan (Moderator), President, Global Justice Center.
  • Tun Khin, President of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK.
  • M. Arsalan Suleman, Foley Hoag, legal counsel to The Gambia in its case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice.
  • Erin Rosenberg, International Legal Expert and former Legal Officer at the ICC Trust Fund for Victims.
  • Thinzar Shunlei Yi, Activist, Action Committee for Democracy Development .
  • Ambassador Stephen Rapp, Former Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and Distinguished Fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide.

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Obligation to Act: International Action and the Fight Against the Coup in Myanmar

Description:

While the country is still reeling from the Burmese military's illegitimate coup on February 1, the international community have launched a slate of new sanctions against military leaders amid public condemnations of the Tatmadaw's use of deadly violence against peaceful protests. Multiple questions about Burma's future remain unanswered, however, particularly as they relate to international support for justice and accountability, ethnic peace and the creation of a true democratic federal union, and the Rohingya genocide crisis.

During this online event, international justice experts from around the world will speak alongside civil society leaders from Burma to share their perspectives on how international and grassroots mobilization around ongoing international justice processes and mechanisms can contribute to a united and multi-ethnic anti-coup movement that ends the Burmese military dictatorship and its violent reign of impunity.

Panelists include:

  • Akila Radhakrishnan (Moderator), President of the Global Justice Center.
  • Tun Khin (President of Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK)
  • M. Arsalan Suleman (Foley Hoag, legal counsel to The Gambia in its case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice)
  • Naw May Oo (Activist and Advisor to the Karen National Union)
  • Thinzar Shunlei Yi (Activist, Action Committee for Democracy Development)
  • Tomas Quintana (Former UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights on Myanmar, lead counsel in the current Universal Jurisdiction case in Argentina)

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Q&A: Preliminary Objections in The Gambia v. Myanmar at the International Court of Justice

On November 11, 2019 the Republic of The Gambia filed suit against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) for violations of the Genocide Convention. This historic lawsuit brings a critical focus to Myanmar’s responsibility as a state for the Rohingya genocide.

The Gambia’s case focuses on Myanmar’s security forces’ so-called “clearance operations” in 2016 and 2017 against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. These attacks against Rohingya were massive in scale, ghastly in brutality, and meticulous in coordination. Approximately 800,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in a matter of weeks, with survivors reporting indiscriminate killings, gender-based violence, arbitrary detention, torture, beatings, and forced displacement. Rape and sexual violence were widespread, pervasive, and often conducted in public, to the extent that the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission (“FFM”) found that sexual violence was a hallmark of the Security Forces’ operations.

On January 20, 2021 Myanmar filed preliminary objections in The Gambia v. Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”). The objections challenge The Gambia’s ability to bring its genocide suit against the state of Myanmar.

This fact sheet answers fundamental questions about the Preliminary Objections stage of the ICJ case. (Answers to questions about the early stages of the lawsuit, Myanmar’s responsibility for genocide, and its impact on the Rohingya population are here and here.)

Download Fact Sheet 

Rohingya case may face delay at The Hague

Excerpt of Anadolu Agency article that quotes GJC factsheet.

A final decision at the UN’s top court in the legal battle against Myanmar for the alleged genocide of Rohingya Muslims could be delayed, as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is first set to rule on objections filed by Myanmar.

A legal summary prepared by the New York-based Global Justice Center, shared with Anadolu Agency, stated that Myanmar has raised objections over whether the western African country of Gambia was eligible to file the November 2019 case alleging that Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

“The ICJ’s final ruling on whether Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention, and what reparations are therefore necessary, will be delayed by the time it takes for the court to hear arguments and decide on the preliminary objections, a delay of likely at least a year,” the center said.

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Myanmar ignoring Rohingya genocide trial measures: activists

Excerpt of AFP article that quotes GJC Legal Director Grant Shubin.

Rights groups have condemned the almost absolute exclusion of Rohingya from voting in November's election and their continued vilification as illegal interlopers.

"Myanmar has done nothing to address the root causes of discrimination and impunity that give rise to the ongoing risk of genocide against the Rohingya," said Global Justice Center legal director Grant Shubin.

The Rohingya crisis has left the international reputation of Myanmar and Suu Kyi in tatters.

The UN General Assembly last week voted overwhelmingly for a draft resolution expressing "grave concern" over serious rights violations against the Rohingya, a decision Myanmar blasted as "intrusive" and "illegitimate".

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Myanmar Files Second Report to World Court on Compliance with Order to Protect Rohingya

NEW YORK — The government of Myanmar today filed its second report to the International Court of Justice on compliance with the court’s order to protect Rohingya from genocide. The report will not be made public at this time.

The court issued its “provisional measures” order in January. It required Myanmar to prevent genocidal acts, ensure military and police forces do not commit genocidal acts, preserve all evidence of genocidal acts, and report on compliance with these provisional measures. Reports to the court are due every six months after the first report in May.

Grant Shubin, legal director of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“We welcome Myanmar’s second report, but merely meeting the court’s technical deadlines is not enough. Since the provisional measures order was issued, Myanmar has done nothing to address the root causes of discrimination and impunity that give rise to the ongoing risk of genocide against the Rohingya.

“In fact, the government has ramped up discrimination with this month’s election that disenfranchised Rohingya voters and blocked Rohingya candidates from running for office. Meaningful compliance with the order requires comprehensive legal reform to dismantle systemic discrimination against the Rohingya and to strip the military of its supremacy and autonomy.”

Rohingya Crisis into Fourth Year: Challenges in Securing a Sustainable Solution

Remarks from GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan

Thank you for having me on such a distinguished panel of speakers and experts today, and I want to echo Simon’s thanks for the inclusion of civil society in this conversation. As Ambassador Rae mentioned,  I am Akila Radhakrishnan, the president of the Global Justice Center, an international human rights organization dedicated to advancing gender equality through the rule of law. And as an organization, we have been working on Myanmar since 2005, particularly justice and accountability for sexual violence against ethnic minorities. 

In reflecting on the topic for today’s panel, “Rohingya Crisis in the Fourth Year: Challenges to Securing a Sustainable Solution” - I am left with the sense that the questions we are asking ourselves four years on are almost identical to the questions we were asking ourselves 4 years ago, and frankly those for those of us who have long worked on Myanmar, much longer. 

As I prepared my remarks for today, I spoke to a wise colleague about this issue and he pointed me towards some statements that Government of Myanmar has made with respect to the Rohingya, including that “there was no discrimination based on religion,” that allegations of misconduct were “fabricated by some big countries and certain foreign news agencies”, that the “Rohingya do not exist in Myanmar either historically, politically or legally”, and that the Tatmadaw is a “methodically and systematically organized institution made up of highly trained and disciplined personnel”, and that the “grotesque allegations made against the Tatmadaw were totally false.”

While these statements sound like they could have been made by Myanmar yesterday, they are in fact statements made to the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance in 1992. I use this to show how while the face of Myanmar’s government since then has changed, how little the Government's rhetoric or posture has changed not only in the four years since this “crisis” began, but rather in the decades of oppression of the Rohingya. And this should be a rallying cry to the international community that business as usual on Myanmar cannot continue. Myanmar should no longer be allowed to set the terms of the debate and the scope of action. 

And nowhere is this more stark than when it comes to the deeply rooted gender issues at the heart of the Rohingya genocide. SRSG Patten has powerfully laid out how crimes of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, including transwomen, as well as men and boys was systematically used by the Tatmadaw in their operations so I won’t repeat what she has said and instead pick up briefly on some key issues that are essential to delivering gender justice and changing the conversation on Myanmar.  

As a starting point, there can be no true justice for the genocide of the Rohingya if acts of sexual and gender-based violence are not at the center of all accountability proceedings at the international and domestic level. And here, countries like The Gambia, Bangladesh, Canada, and the Netherlands and institutions like the ICC, OHCHR and the IIMM need to be commended in their efforts to take bold steps to move the justice and accountability conversation forward. And in particular, I must say thank you to Canada and the Netherlands for their commitment to addressing crimes of SGBV in their intervention at the ICJ. But while international efforts move forward, it has been profoundly disturbing to see members of the international community continue to validate and legitimize deeply flawed domestic processes, in particular the International Commission of Enquiry. 

As an advocate for gender-justice, that fact the ICOE’s executive summary categorically dismissed evidence of rape and gang rape, despite extensive documentation of these crimes, should immediately disqualify this report.  If the ICOE is to be the evidentiary base for domestic accountability proceedings, where does this leave those who were subject to acts of sexual and gender-based violence? While there is little to no transparency around Myanmar’s court-martials, it can be assumed that none of the court-martials that have been announced on the basis of the ICOE report will include charges of sexual and gender-based violence, including those that were announced yesterday. And even outside of the cases it may underlie, just the matter of its dismissal and exclusion from the ICOE’s report is a step in the erasure of gendered experiences.  

The concerns are compounded with larger concerns over the ICOE, including their limited and flawed mandate, to questions about their independence, impartiality and methodology, and its findings. However, in looking for openings to address the seemingly intractable situation in Myanmar, most states have chosen an approach of selective acceptance and “constructive” engagement with regards to the ICOE, even as they have yet to see the full report. This is what operating on Myanmar’s terms looks like.

In fact, just last week, the joint statement released following yet another closed-door Security Council meeting on Myanmar called for the implementation of the recommendations of the ICOE. It is not possible to divorce the recommendations of a report from the analysis and narrative that underlies it, and the continued legitimization of this report, signal the international community’s comfort with the erasure of gendered experiences in pursuit of “solutions.” Rhetoric decrying sexual and gender-based violence is not enough, the international community must ensure that all of its actions on Myanmar are undertaken with a gender perspective. 

Second,  while justice is an important part of the larger accountability picture, it cannot be the sole focus. Rather, accountability needs to be holistic and survivor-centered and should seek to address and transform the root causes of violence--including patriarchal structures and misogyny--both in Myanmar and in the Rohingya community itself. Therefore, punitive measures against individuals cannot alone address it; to comprehensively address SGBV takes much more: reparations and redress, including guarantees of non-repetition, and access to comprehensive medical and psychosocial care for survivors, including essential sexual and reproductive health services such as safe abortion.

And as accountability proceedings are underway, it is crucial that the Rohingya themselves, including Rohingya women and girls, are able to determine their own priorities for justice and restitution. To borrow a phrase from American reproductive justice activists, “nothing about us without us.” And on this, while I deeply appreciate being included in this conversation, I note with disappointment that the direct voice of Rohingya women is not represented today. Rohingya women and girls must be the architects, not objects, of their future. 

Thank you so much for the ability to participate. 

Canada, Netherlands join Gambia's genocide case against Myanmar

Excerpt of Al Jazeera article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The New York-based Global Justice Center welcomed the move by Canada and the Netherlands, calling it "nothing short of historic".

Akila Radhakrishnan, the group's president, said: "Just as important as their intention to intervene is their promise to focus on gendered crimes of genocide like sexual and gender-based violence, which was central to the atrocities against the Rohingya."

She added: "Too often, gendered experiences do not translate to justice and accountability efforts and leave the primary targets of those crimes - women and girls - behind. This is an important step forward to address that gap and Canada and the Netherlands should be applauded for this move."

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