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The Rohingya Crisis — Human Rights Issue or Interstate Dispute?

By Jasper Ang , The Wall Street Journal

Published: 20 Mar 2019 - 12:00 PM

The Question of Human Rights.

The Question of Human Rights.

The Rohingya Crisis is being discussed in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the moment. France had sued Myanmar for suspected acts of genocide.

However, the question that needs to be addressed is “Is the ICJ legally entitled to take up this issue?” and the factors affecting the question is whether the Rohingya Crisis is a human rights issue or an interstate dispute. As such, if the crisis were to be a human rights issue, the ICJ is not legally entitled to discuss this issue because doing so would infringe into Myanmar’s Sovereignty rights. However if the issue were to be an interstate dispute, under the ICJ statute, the ICJ have the rights to intervene and discuss this issue, for the crisis not only involves Myanmar but also France now.

To begin with, the council had decided to find reasons as to why this crisis would be a human rights issue. Firstly, the Rohingyas were seen to be discriminated against in the 1982 Citizenship Act. This act showed that the Rohingyas would no longer be recognised as a citizen in Myanmar and they would be rendered stateless and would become refugees. This evidence alone would support the fact that the Rohingyas were deprived of their human rights. In addition, as this issue had gained international attention, which meant gaining the attention of other countries over the world, this could thus ascertain the nature of this issue — human rights issue.

However the council believed that the crisis is both a human rights issue and an interstate dispute. The council justified by stating that since France had put out a claim that Myanmar was involved in a case of genocide but Myanmar denied being part of any genocide case, this had been rendered an interstate dispute between France and Myanmar.

For the case to both be a human rights issue and an interstate dispute, this would provide a reason for ICJ to investigate further in the Rohingya Crisis. Therefore, the council had concluded that they would be investigating further in the Rohingya Crisis.