Today, the UN Security Council will be briefed by the chair of an inquiry into Myanmar’s military crackdown in the Rakhine state, which has displaced some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims.
The briefing will focus on a report prepared by the inquiry in August that labelled the actions by Myanmar’s military as being of “genocidal intent”. The report also called for an arms embargo, targeted sanctions and for primary suspects to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
Regardless, collective action against Myanmar at the UN is unlikely. China, a long-time ally of Naypyidaw, would veto any such move. Instead, expect unilateral action. The EU is likely to invoke trade restrictions with Myanmar’s government, while the is US considering sanctions against individuals and military-operated businesses. Such actions are unlikely to be effective; the EU has already sanctioned military leaders and imposed an arms embargo, while the US targeted some commanders in August to little effect.
In the meantime, the 700,000 displaced Rohingyas could become a serious security threat. Indeed, the squalid refugee camps that the Rohingya are forced to live in are becoming breeding grounds for radicalisation, potentially presenting a foothold for extremist groups in southeast Asia.
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.