From World Court, a 'Triumph of International Justice'

International Court of Justice orders Myanmar to protect the Rohingya
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2020 8:37 AM CST
UN Court to Myanmar: Protect the Rohingya
In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, an exhausted Rohingya man helps an elderly family member and a child as they arrive at the Kutupalong refugee camp after crossing from Myanmar to the Bangladesh side of the border, in Ukhia.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

It's only the first step to address a lawsuit filed by Gambia accusing Myanmar of genocide, but an International Court of Justice decision this week is being applauded by the former as "a triumph of international justice." Per Reuters, a 17-member panel from the court at the Hague issued a unanimous ruling Thursday that mandates Myanmar must "take all measures within its power to prevent all acts" that violate the United Nations' 1948 Genocide Convention and that are committed against its vulnerable Rohingya Muslim population. That means, per the judgment read aloud by presiding Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf, that Myanmar has to instruct its military and other armed factions to protect the Rohingya—more than 730,000 of whom fled to Bangladesh in 2017—against any violence meant to bring about the group's "physical destruction in whole or in part."

The ruling notes that the Rohingya face a "real and imminent risk," and that Myanmar will be held accountable for all protective measures taken via regular reports it now has to submit on how it's been adhering to this order, per the New York Times. Myanmar's first report is due in four months, Yusuf said. Reuters notes this ruling is a response only to Gambia's request for preliminary measures, and that the court's decision on the overall lawsuit could take years. The court order isn't enforceable, though UN member countries can request assistance from the Security Council after rulings have been issued. "The chances of [Myanmar leader] Aung San Suu Kyi implementing this ruling will be zero unless significant international pressure is applied," the head of human rights group Burma Campaign UK tells the Times. (More Myanmar stories.)

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