ICJ’s Judgment in the case of genocide against Myanmar


    In News 

    • Recently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) dismissed preliminary objections by Myanmar to a case alleging the Southeast Asian nation is responsible for genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority.


    •  They are an ethnic group, representing the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar and predominantly live in the Western Myanmar province of Rakhine.
    • They speak a dialect of Bengali, as opposed to the commonly spoken Burmese language.
    • They are described by the United Nations (UN) as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.


    • Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine state in 2017 in the aftermath of an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group.
    •  More than 700,000 Rohingya fled into neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and torching thousands of Rohingya homes.
    • The case by Gambia
    • Amid international outrage at the treatment of the Rohingya, Gambia filed the case with the world court in November 2019, alleging that Myanmar is breaching the genocide convention. 
      • The Gambia, a predominantly Muslim country, is backed by the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 
    • The Netherlands and Canada are backing Gambia, saying in 2020 that the country “took a laudable step towards ending impunity for those committing atrocities in Myanmar and upholding this pledge. 

    Myanmar’s Response 

    • Lawyers representing Myanmar argued in February that the case should be tossed out because the world court only hears cases between states and the Rohingya complaint was brought by Gambia on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
      • They also claimed that Gambia could not bring the case to court as it was not directly linked to the events in Myanmar and that a legal dispute did not exist between the two countries before the case was filed.

    What next?

    • The ICJ’s ruling sets the stage for court hearings, airing evidence of atrocities against the Rohingya that human rights groups and a UN probe say amount to breaches of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
    • The ruling of the ICJ is binding on Myanmar, and cannot be appealed. However, no means are available to the court to enforce it. 
      • So far, only three cases of genocide worldwide have been recognised since World War II: Cambodia (the late 1970s), Rwanda (1994), and Srebrenica, Bosnia (1995).