Griffith Asia Institute Research Seminar: Justice for the Rohingha

Griffith Asia Institute Research Seminar: Justice for the Rohingha
Griffith Asia Institute Research Seminar: Justice for the Rohingha

Principal speaker

Associate Professor Susan Harris-Rimmer

The United Nations has made many claims about protecting human rights of minorities in conflict-affected and post-conflict states, the prevention of mass atrocities and ending of impunity for international crimes. None of these claims are yet to be backed up with demonstrable action in Myanmar, with most rights issues trumped by the opportunities for foreign direct investment in the newly open state.

Rohingya communities in Rakhine State have been cruelly treated and displaced in great numbers in August 2017, but also since the riots in 2012. The UN reports that at least 720,000 Rohingyas have fled the violence into Bangladesh since 25th August, and a significant number remain displaced inside Myanmar. Meanwhile other Burmese ethnic communities also face rights violations, such as Kachin State.

The recent conflict in Rakhine state has been brewing for years, and shows the weakness of ASEAN and UN conflict prevention mandates. This paper traces the compound failures of local and international actors to prevent atrocity crimes, using an international human rights law lens.

I then analyse the justice mechanisms that have been put in motion by the Burmese Government, China, the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to judge their likelihood of combatting impunity for international crimes. The innovative strategy offered by the ICC holds the best hope at present. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the has requested the court to decide if it has the mandate to investigate the alleged deportation of Rohingya civilians from Myanmar into Bangladesh, given Bangladesh is a party to the Rome Statute.

Susan Harris Rimmer is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Associate Professor at Griffith University Law School. She is author of Gender and Transitional Justice (Routledge 2010) and over 40 refereed works on women's rights and international law. Susan was Australia's representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 2014, and the W20 (gender equity advice to the G20) in Turkey 2014, China 2016, and Germany 2017. She is a National Board member of the International Women's Development Agency. Susan was named in the Apolitical list of Top 100 Global Experts in Gender Policy in May 2018.


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