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ICJ order on Myanmar: What comes next?

  • Published at 11:16 pm January 24th, 2020
File photo: Rohingya refugees stretch their hands to receive aid distributed by local organisations at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 14, 2017 Reuters

Thursday's ruling dealt only with Gambia's request for so-called preliminary measures, the equivalent of a restraining order for states

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Thursday ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect its Muslim Rohingya population from persecution and atrocities, and preserve evidence of alleged crimes against them.

On November 11, 2019, The Gambia filed an application at the ICJ based on the Genocide Convention, relating to the extensively documented atrocities perpetrated against the Rohingyas by Myanmar.

Thursday's ruling dealt only with Gambia's request for so-called preliminary measures, the equivalent of a restraining order for states. It gave no indication of the court's final decision, which could take years to reach.

After the order, the only question that is arising in people's mind is what will happen next.

Meanwhile, Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) Executive Director Antonia Mulvey has explained the orders, in English, in a video aiming to make those more understandable to everyone. The explanations have also Bangla and Rohingya versions. 

The video was published on LAW's official youtube channel on Thursday.

In the video, she said: "Last year, I attended an important hearing at the International Court of Justice with some of you. The Gambia brought a case against Myanmar arguing that they had breached the Genocide Convention. Lawyers asked the court to implement a series of measures to protect the 600,000 Rohingya who are still in Rakhine state in Myanmar and today the court agreed that Myanmar has to do all that it can to prevent acts of genocide including stopping of the killings and of the sexual violence. It ordered Myanmar to prevent the destruction of evidence related to the genocide and to report back to the court how it is implementing these measures after four months and thereafter after every six months."

She continued saying: "This is a great outcome for the Rohingya community. This decision is binding and that's a legal way of saying Myanmar must do as the court says."

The LAW executive director said:"There are some important things that I would like you to know at this point. Today was the first step in a long process. The actual full hearing might take up to five years.

"The judges have not made a decision as to whether Myanmar have committed genocide, leaves a very important decision to further harm to the Rohingya people who are still in Myanmar. So it must be patient. The Gambian team is working very hard and there will be a further hearing later this year," she added.

Description of the order in Bangla 

Description of the order in Rohingya version