The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

A United Nations resolution was recently adopted on the human rights situation in Myanmar. The resolution recognized Bangladesh’s humanitarian efforts and its continued cooperation with the international community for ensuring accountability for human rights violations against the Rohingya.

The resolution was jointly presented by the European Union, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and was co-sponsored by 109 countries. It calls upon Myanmar to address the root causes of the Rohingya crisis and establish a conducive environment in Rakhine to facilitate the voluntary and safe repatriation of the Rohingya. The resolution also stressed the key role of regional countries and organizations in addressing the crisis in Myanmar and reaching a durable solution. It welcomed the ongoing justice and accountability processes against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice and investigations by the International Criminal Court.

However, key regional states and institutions like ASEAN must act to uphold this resolution on the ground. In addition, to ensure justice in addressing the Rohingya issue and holding Myanmar accountable for its crimes against humanity, collective efforts must be pursued.

China is the most important player in the region which maintains close relations with Myanmar. It provides political and diplomatic support to the junta whenever it faces domestic and international backlash. Thus, it is imperative that Beijing withdraw its unwavering support for the junta.

Beijing should acknowledge the regional security consequences if they don’t act prudently. Beijing’s interests are not met by giving Myanmar a blank check to do as it wishes. Beijing should not support such a rogue state which undermines the whole region and harms regional interests. China should act according to the new UN resolution and cooperate with the rest of the international community to ensure justice for the Rohingya and maintain peace in the region.

The second most important regional player in resolving the Rohingya crisis and holding Myanmar accountable is India. New Delhi should act according to the recent UN resolution and address the plight of the Rohingya. As the largest democracy in the world, at least on paper, India can not turn a blind eye to the massive human rights violations committed by the junta. Adopting a policy of appeasement towards Myanmar will only threaten regional security and haunt New Delhi’s aspiration to emerge as a regional power.

Therefore, India should acknowledge the belligerence of Myanmar as its northeastern states are already feeling the heat of the renewed conflict on the other side of the border. There is also a new influx of ethnic nationals from Myanmar who have crossed the border to seek refuge in northeastern India – endangering New Delhi’s security. Thus, India must express its solidarity with the Rohingya to stop further crises and pressure the junta to facilitate the safe and swift repatriation of the Rohingya.

The resolution recognizes the important role of ASEAN in addressing the political and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and calls for swift implementation of ASEAN’s five-point consensus to resolve the humanitarian crises.

Myanmar is a member state of ASEAN. However, since the genocide against the Rohingya and Myanmar’s continued violence against other minority groups, ASEAN has remained largely silent. The organization also failed to address the will of the people of Myanmar when the military junta forcefully overthrew the democratically elected government in 2021. ASEAN’s appeasement has lent the junta some legitimacy for its genocide against the Rohingya. It should not allow the junta any flexibility in resolving the political and humanitarian crisis inside the country. In addition, ASEAN must not ignore the deteriorating situation of the Rohingya living in the squalid refugee camps inside Bangladesh.

The international community should step up its collective efforts to ensure justice for the Rohingya and other minority groups in Myanmar. Though the ICJ’s last ruling has brought some hope for the Rohingya, the prolonged crisis seems to have lost the attention of key regional players – risking the prospects of voluntary and safe repatriation of the Rohingya and holding Myanmar’s junta accountable for its crimes. However, the World Court’s rulings are binding and will be an opportunity for a collective diplomatic push to pressure Myanmar and its patrons to start the repatriation process.

The resolution should work as a wake-up call for key regional countries and institutions to course correct and deliver a long-term solution to one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet.

Kazi Fahim Ahmed is currently working as a Research Intern at the East Asia Study Center, University of Dhaka. His interests include South and Southeast Asian geopolitics, U.S. foreign policy, great power rivalry, and the Indo-Pacific. Some of his recent articles have been published in Australian Outlook, The London Globalist, and The Daily Observer.