ICJ to issue provisional ruling in Myanmar genocide case

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to decide on whether it will force Myanmar to adopt provisional measures

myanmar icj

Photo: Koen Van Weel/ANP/AFP

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to decide on whether it will force Myanmar to adopt provisional measures that prevent further persecution against its minority Muslim Rohingya population.

The Gambia, which brought the case to the ICJ, argues that Myanmar has violated the 1948 Genocide Convention by violently expelling 730,000 Rohingya Muslims from its territory since October 2016.

If the court decides that Myanmar must adopt provisional measures to prevent harm, which analysts believe is the likely outcome due to the body of evidence accumulated since 2016, it is unclear whether Myanmar will actually take any measures to seriously crack down.

Though technically legally binding, ICJ decisions are not enforced—countries subject to its decisions have ignored rulings in the past with few repercussions.

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi insists that her government has already held the soldiers accused of crimes to account. This month, the country’s Independent Commission of Enquiry found that while individual soldiers were guilty of war crimes, they did not have “genocidal intent”.

If Myanmar does not comply with the ruling, the UN itself is unlikely to impose sanctions because China will likely block them. However, member states might levy separate, unilateral sanctions to help enforce the ICJ’s order, as assuaging the conflict has garnered multilateral support.

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