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With Vetoes Rohingya Crisis At Its Worst

Barrister Nusrat Jahan Tania

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Bangladesh is hosting more than one million Rohingya, mainly Muslim minority community who are now stateless, most of whom fled following a wave of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state in 2017. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for stronger international action to help Rohingya refugees return to their home country Myanmar.  
In a case brought by the Gambia in 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Myanmar to take emergency measures to prevent genocide of Rohingya. In a unanimously-ruled order issued by a panel of 17 judges, the court upheld the provisions of the 1984 Genocide Convention -- saying that Myanmar has "caused irreparable damage to the rights of the Rohingya". Here the ICJ has ordered Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims and prevent further acts of genocide. The UN's top court has rejected arguments from State Counsellor Aung San SuuKyi. It said Myanmar must abide by the 1948 Genocide Convention.
The ICJ's order is provisional. It orders Myanmar's government to take emergency measures to protect the Rohingya while the case continues, and to preserve any evidence connected to the allegations of genocide. The case itself could take years to formally decide, and Myanmar may flout the orders. Whereas on the other hand China supports Myanmar and both shares almost the same views and belief. Myanmar might do anything they want with their Muslims minorities without hesitation with getting china as their support. If China uses its veto power then no order will work. International law is hard to enforce against states which do not want to comply with it and which have powerful political allies, especially ones with UN veto power, to protect them from official sanction. But from the perspective of international justice, Gambia's stand at the ICJ is still important. This case could serve as a precedent for forcing states to take action on genocide which is significant in its own right. Initiatives of the developed countries are required to put pressure.
The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945 and began its activities in April 1946. The Court has twofold role: first, to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States (its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned); and, second, to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorized United Nations organs and agencies of the system. The Court is composed of 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. The Court is assisted by a Registry, its permanent administrative secretariat, which is independent to the United Nations Secretariat.
However, over 10 lakh Rohingya refugees who ran away from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the wake of persecution are a threat to the security of the entire region. The problem was created by Myanmar, and its solution must be found in Myanmar. More than three years have elapsed, regrettably, not a single Rohingya could be repatriated. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged the global community to resolve the issue as without their help this is next to impossible. Here, the international community should have effective role to play for a solution to the crisis.
Recognizing the complexities and sheer scale of the challenge of refugee hosting in Cox's Bazar, as well as other development challenges and opportunities in Bangladesh, there is a need to explore better ways to accommodate the needs of Rohingya refugees. Having this thought in mind, Bangladesh Government provided comfort zone to Rohingya refugees in Bhasan Char which is hailed by Rohingya refugees. Government is moving only those refugees who are willing to go and this will ease unbearable overcrowding in camps that are home to more than 1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar. As a result this will reduce the crime rate and problem created by corona virus.
At present the situation of the Rohingya Refugee is one of the most complex refugee situations in the world continuing for more than three decades. Diplomats, political leaders, and humanitarian agencies will have to keep up their fight to protect the long-suffering Rohingyas. The provisional measures ordered by the court are legally binding on Myanmar. However, only the UN Security Council can enforce them, and the prospect of that happening is remote with possible vetoes from China and Russia. So, as the case moves to the next stage and the court awaits Myanmar's response in the months ahead, the force of the law itself will severely be tested.

(Barrister Tania is Lecturer, Southeast University and Director of Islamia Commercial Insurance Company Ltd).

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