The International Conclave on Justice and Accountability for the Rohingya was co-convened by the Centre of Peace and Justice, Brac University, partnered with International Institute for Social Studies (ISS) and Asia Justice Coalition (AJC) on 18 October 2019. The Conclave was hosted in The Hague, The Netherlands by the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Key note speakers at the Conclave included Bob Rae, Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar and Gambia Justice Minister Mr. Abubacarr Marie Tambadou. Key stakeholders H.E Sheikh Mohammad Belal, Bangladesh Ambassador to The Netherlands, and Ms. Shahanara Monica, Director (UN) at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Bangladesh among others participated actively throughout the Conclave.
In addition to the keynote speakers, inaugural session speakers included Brac University Vice Chancellor Professor Vincent Chang, ISS Rector Professor Inge Hutter, ISS Professor Syed Mansoob Murshed, CPJ Executive Director Barrister Manzoor Hasan, and Amnesty International Director for South Asia Mr. Biraj Patnaik. More than 100 participants participated in the Conclave, including senior government officials, leading international human rights lawyers, human rights activists, and leaders of the Rohingya community, to discuss issues of justice and accountability for the crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya.
Gambia Justice Minister Abubacarr Marie Tambadou announced that Gambia will be taking Myanmar to the International Court of Justice to face charges of genocide against its Rohingya minority. The charges, which will be filed by the Gambian Ministry of Justice’s legal team, will be the first time the Myanmar authorities will be accused of the crime of genocide at the International Court of Justice. He announced:“I can confirm that on October 4th, I have instructed our lawyers to file the case at the International Court of Justice.”
Minister M. Tambadou, who previously served as a special assistant to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda also said:“I could smell the stench of genocide from miles away when I visited the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. It was all too familiar for me, after a decade of interacting with the victims of the Rwandan mass rapes, killings and genocide.”
Mr. Bob Rae, Canada’s Special Envoy on Myanmar, spoke about the need to bring justice to the Rohingya as an ongoing social and political process that transcends purely legal avenues. Mr. Rae cited the need to hold Myanmar accountable for its crimes against the Rohingya but stated that this in itself is insufficient; also needed are access to education in the camps, humanitarian access, refugee rights, and for Rohingya themselves to have a voice and participate meaningfully in political processes toward sustainable solutions.
Speakers and participants discussed at length the need to examine the multifaceted challenges involved in bringing about justice and accountability for the Rohingya through three thematic panels, “The Rohingya Crisis and Myanmar’s Social and Political Landscape”, “Justice and Accountability”, and “Toward Sustainable Solutions: Multi-faceted Engagements for Concrete Action”. Recommended action points of theConclave are as follows:
Bolster support for individual and state accountability and criminal justice.
Harness political pressure, particularly amongst key state actors.
Increase economic pressure.
Uphold the dignity of Rohingya survivors.
The Conclave created a constructive space in which complex and nuanced issues comprising the Rohingya crisis could be debated and examined in detail. While there was recognition that international legal mechanisms are moving forward more quickly than anticipated, many participants highlighted that these processes do not constitute standalone sustainable solutions. Myanmar’s political, social cohesion, development and security challenges are likely to persist even as the justice process moves ahead.
A delegation from Bangladesh including Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, Director of Centre for Genocide Studies, Dhaka University; Mr. K.A.M Morshed, Director of Advocacy, Partnership and Technology, BRAC; Ms. Farah Kabir, Country Director, Action Aid Bangladesh; Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of COAST and Ms. Shireen Parveen Huq, Member of Naripokkho Bangladesh took active part in the Conclave by participating in the panel and moderating different sessions.
The Ambassador His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed Belal offered closing remarks while CPJ Research Coordinator Muhammad Badiuzzaman delivered vote of thanks to the participants.
CPJ Brac University acknowledges the indispensable support provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Government of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands to organise the Conclave. The Conclave placed CPJ Brac University in the global map of advocacy for the justice and accountability for Rohingya. CPJ, Brac University in partnership with other likeminded organisations will keep working on issues of justice and accountability for Rohingya further at home and abroad.