The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute has joined other human rights bodies in welcoming a groundbreaking International Court of Justice case against Myanmar for allegedly violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The application was made by the West African state of The Gambia - the first time that a country has brought a case against another on a different continent over an issue not directly affecting it.
The legal action triggers a judicial process that could determine whether Myanmar’s atrocities against Rohingya Muslims violate the Genocide Convention. The convention permits member states to bring a dispute before the ICJ. States can also seek provisional measures to stop continuing violations. Myanmar became a party to the Genocide Convention in 1956.
Anne Ramberg, co-chair of the IBA institute, said ‘This is the first judicial scrutiny of Myanmar’s atrocities; it must not be the last. The relentless campaign of terror against Rohingya Muslims urgently needs to be addressed. Myanmar has utterly failed in their obligations concerning the Genocide Convention and they must be held accountable. In bringing forward this case, The Gambia is sending a powerful message that genocide, and other unspeakable acts of cruelty, will not be tolerated by the international judiciary.’
In September, a UN-backed independent fact-finding mission concluded that 'Myanmar is failing in its obligation to prevent genocide, to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalising and punishing genocide.'