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Asia Justice Coalition and Opinio Juris (2022): Myanmar and International Indifference: Rethinking Accountability

From 24 August – 2 September 2022, Asia Justice Coalition and OpinioJuris curated a virtual symposium titled: ‘Myanmar and International Indifference: Rethinking Accountability. This joint event was a follow-up to the 2020 and 2021 online symposium and marked the fifth anniversary of the Rohingya Remembrance Day and the 10th anniversary of the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar.

Since the 1 February 2021 coup in Myanmar, the military junta continues to be at war with its people. The Myanmar military has committed widespread and systematic attacks against civilians across the country amounting to crimes against humanity, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture, and ill-treatment, including rape and other sexual violence. While there are ongoing proceedings before national and international courts, unfortunately, the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Myanmar has dropped from the international community’s focus. Consequently, this year, the intention was to bring renewed international attention to the growing and unchallenged impunity of the Myanmar military, to the legal efforts to seek redress and to call for immediate action in addressing the crisis in Myanmar.

Accordingly, the symposium called for the international community to impose targeted economic sanctions, halt the continuing weapons transfer to Myanmar, and intervene formally in The Gambia v. Myanmar case at the International Court of Justice to ensure accountability. The symposium highlighted the shift in the opinions about Rohingya pre-and post-military coup in Myanmar and the central role played by Rohingya women in their fight for international justice spearheaded. As a strategic litigation intervention, the symposium looked at the possibility of prosecuting the grave breaches of Geneva Conventions under the principle of universal jurisdiction as well as attaching international criminal responsibility on Myanmar junta leaders for internet shutdowns at the International Criminal Court. In doing so, the symposium also questioned the capacity of international legal processes to deter mass atrocities, especially genocide, and focused on the limits of international institutions in providing solutions to protracted conflicts like in the Rakhine State. Lastly, the critical work by Myanmar lawyers in defending the rights of clients, facilitating humanitarian actions, and documenting mass atrocities was brought to the fore.

The symposium witnessed 10 posts by 12 contributors. They included AJC’s secretariat staff Jennifer Keene-McCann and Aakash Chandran as well as representatives of AJC members such as Savita Pawnday (GCR2P), Kingsley Abbott and Raquel Saavedra (ICJ), Antonia Mulvey (LAW), Matthew Smith and Zaw Win (Fortify Rights), Laetitia van den Assum, Dr. Melanie O’Brien, Caroline Stover and Michael Altman-Lupu.

Click here to read all contributions.

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