Professor Yanghee Lee: Dec 11, 2019
I continue to call for the Security Council to refer the full situation in Myanmar to the ICC, or for an international tribunal be set up.
These three days are a historic moment that not only Myanmar is witnessing, but the entire world. I would have very much liked to be present in The Hague.
The Gambia, representing OIC, has brought a case against Myanmar under the Genocide Convention.
For far too long, atrocious crimes committed against the Rohingya have gone without any accountability. Now, finally, we all are witnessing the beginning of what many Rohingya have repeated to me that they desire: justice and accountability.
It is notable that while this is a case about state responsibility for breaching international obligations between The Gambia and Myanmar, the relief sought by The Gambia includes that people responsible for genocide are punished, the Rohingya receive reparations including safe return to Myanmar and citizenship, and guarantees of non-recurrence of genocide against them. This could result in meaningful justice for victims.
With the International Criminal Court not being able to conduct a full investigation into the situation in Myanmar, this maybe the only avenue for genocide to be adjudicated on by a court. Undoubtedly, it is only the beginning of the accountability process for the crimes committed in Myanmar. Other ethnic minorities have suffered years of abuses and human rights violations. And someday, Myanmar must be accountable for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in other ethnic states.
What needs to be pointed out is that this current hearing is limited to provisional measures to stop genocide from being perpetrated by the state of Myanmar. I continue to receive information from the ground that the conditions for the Rohingya in Myanmar continue to be extremely dire.
I continue to call for the Security Council to refer the full situation in Myanmar to the ICC, or for an international tribunal be set up. Either of those bodies could prosecute individuals for genocide and other crimes.
It is high time for Myanmar to be found that they were, and continue to be, in breach of their obligations under Genocide Convention. Myanmar must wake up to what it has done, take responsibility and remedy the damage by making reparation to its victims. This would be the only way forward if Myanmar desires to be a responsible member of the international community.
Professor Yanghee Lee is available for interviews