The provisional ruling to protect the persecuted Rohingyas by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) should make all countries, especially those close to Myamnar, to revisit their relationship with the country, speakers at a discussion said yesterday.
The ICJ’s recognition of the Rohingyas as a “distinct” ethnic group has made it obligatory for the international community, especially the UN Security Council, to protect this group, they said at the discussion held at the North South University (NSU) in Dhaka.
They also said that the ruling paved the way for countries to work with the international community, irrespective of bi-lateral relations with Myanmar, without hesitation.
The Center for Peace Studies (CPS) at the university organised the event titled “Accountability and Justice in Rohingya Crisis: ICJ order on The Gambia vs Myanmar Case”.
“May be this first ruling of the ICJ will change the positions of some other countries… of some other players,” Benoit Préfontaine, high commissioner of Canada in Bangladesh, said while speaking at the event.
On Thursday, in a landmark ruling, the top court of the United Nations ordered Myanmar to prevent acts of genocide against the country’s persecuted Rohingya minority and to stop destroying evidence.
A panel of 17 judges of the ICJ, ruled order read by presiding Judge Abdulaqawi Ahmed Yusuf, upheld the provisions of the 1948 Genocide Convention saying Myanmar had “caused irreparable damage to the rights of the Rohingyas”.
Provisional measures are the steps to be taken to prevent further harm and comes as the first step of the legal case.
In November, The Gambia filed a suit against Myanmar, alleging it was committing “an ongoing genocide against its minority Muslim Rohingya population” and violating the 1948 Genocide Convention.
The ICJ ruling was the response to that suit.
Urging Myanmar to comply with the ruling, the Canadian high commissioner said that Myanmar now has few months to show the ICJ what it is doing in this regard.
While he termed the ruling “very encouraging”, he also said that it is too early to be triumphant. “We have a still lot of works to do… It’s a game of chess… the ICJ process will take several years.”
“It is important to not forget the plight of the Rohingyas,” he added.
He hoped that the ruling will help mobilise more people in the international community.
“This will have a positive effect on all the efforts in the international community to keep this issue in mind…”
At the beginning of the discussion, Shahidul Haque, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, presented highlights of the ICJ ruling and described how it has affected and would affect the international community.
“The court ruling will have a great impact on the international community. Even Myanmar itself has accepted that war crimes had occurred against Rohingyas and are being investigated,” said Shahidul, who is now working as a senior fellow at the CPS.
He said that the reactions by Canada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, the UN secretary general, the UN High Commission on Human Rights, the European Union and others are very important. “So, Myanmar is coming under the radar in that sense.”
Bangladesh also needs to revisit its own strategy, policy and approach, and it has to be extremely innovative in terms of balancing its national interest and international obligations, he further said, adding, “There are many countries who have to revisit their policy [on Myanmar] also.”
He, however, said the issue of repatriation should continue like it was before the ruling.
Replying to whether Myanmar would comply with the ICJ ruling, he said, “They will be under surveillance of the court. They have to report every four months.”
“When the ICJ has inaugurated [the process], the [UN] security council will also revisit its position,” he added.