Rohingya Muslims and IHL: Expanding the Basis for Responsibility to Protect in a NIAC with a Proactive Mechanism

Document Type : Original Article


Ph.D. Candidate of International Law, Faculty of Law, Sussex University, Brighton, United Kingdom.



Rohingya Muslims have suffered persecution and genocide in the Republic of Myanmar (formerly Burma) and have been expelled from the country by the military junta who are in power. The evidence is incontrovertible of grave human rights abuses and that the refugees have lived in diaspora with no prospect of returning home. The UN human rights investigators have compiled reports that testify to the inhumanities that they have suffered prior to their expulsion. Despite this, there has been no efforts towards redressing this problem which falls within the remit of international human rights and humanitarian law. The actions of the Myanmar authorities in using force can be considered as Non-International Armed Conflict (NIAC) and the UN intervention under the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) measure, could be activated. This can serve as a basis for arresting the responsible officials in Myanmar and prosecuting them under an international tribunal. This has not been possible because of the lack of consensus in the international community and the exercise of the veto power by some members of the Security Council. This article argues that there should be intervention in this conflict under the existing precedent by broadening the scope of intervention and then by prosecution in a specially constituted tribunal. The R2P mechanism can be activated by prescribing the genocide of the Rohingyas within the framework of an NIAC and by constituting a tribunal under the Tadic principle to try the members of the Myanmar’s regime for their breaches of IHL.


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