A delegation from Myanmar, led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, will defend the country today against claims of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The case, filed by The Gambia, accuses Myanmar of committing acts of genocide against Rohingya Muslims in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention. The case mainly relates to a 2017 military offensive in Rakhine state that forced some 740,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Today’s hearing will not determine whether Myanmar is guilty of committing genocide, but a “provisional measure” may be issued by the court that would call for an immediate halt to actions of genocide.
Suu Kyi will likely reiterate Myanmar’s assertion that the 2017 offensive was to fight militants. However, her attendance is a risky gambit—a former Nobel Peace Prize winner defending her government against allegations of genocide is sure to draw international attention. On the other hand, Suu Kyi’s decision to personally defend her country has drawn enormous support at home, bolstering her image ahead of elections next year.
The risk may pay off. While a provisional measure would likely draw Western sanctions against individuals of Myanmar’s military, a coordinated sanctions regime remains unlikely due to the country’s close relations with China.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.