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27 July, 2021 11:34:48 PM
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UNHRC resolution on Myanmar

Though the issue of genocide against the Rohingya was raised in different UN forums, it was not possible to bring all the member states of the UN on one platform. Even India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, among the eight countries in South Asia, have not signed any resolution against Myanmar.
Shaikh Abdur Rahman

The 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on July 12 unanimously adopted a resolution on Rohingya, entitled “Human Rights Situation of Rohingya Muslims and other Minorities in Myanmar” and it has been widely discussed in the media as well as in the diplomatic arena. The main reason for this is that although many resolutions on Rohingya have been adopted by the United Nations (UN) before, the difference between this resolution and other resolutions is that this resolution has been adopted on the basis of a unanimous decision. In almost all the resolutions that have been passed before, China, Russia, India, Japan, various countries in Africa, and several countries in Southeast Asia have either taken a stand against the proposal or abstained from voting.

Despite the massive genocide against the Rohingya refugees in 2017, the international community has not come together against Myanmar. Though the issue of genocide against the Rohingya was raised in different UN forums, it was not possible to bring all the member states of the UN on one platform. Even India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, among the eight countries in South Asia, have not signed any resolution against Myanmar. They either opposed, or abstained from voting. Although there has been a lot of debate and sharp disagreement among the UN member states over the resolution, at the end, the resolution was passed unanimously. Bangladesh has become able to bring the international community in a consensus for the very first time which can be marked as a ‘landmark’ event in the Rohingya crisis, because Bangladesh is the biggest victim and an indispensable partner of the Rohingya crisis. Now the question is, why passing the resolution on Rohingya unanimously in the UNHRC is important? And, what does it mean for Bangladesh?

The importance of the resolution is vested on three aspects. First, the resolution acknowledges the contribution of Bangladesh. Most importantly, Bangladesh, in collaboration with various national and international aid agencies, has provided shelter facilities to about 1.2 million Rohingya refugees for four years. However, the international funding and attention have been steadily declining and thus, the pressure on Bangladesh has been increasing alarmingly. Apart from other social, political and environmental problems, a great deal of economic pressure falls on Bangladesh. The resolution, adopted by the UNHRC, called on all to stand by Bangladesh by increasing international cooperation in the maintenance of the Rohingya FDMNs.

Second, another significant aspect of the resolution is bringing the accused of committing atrocities, torture, killings and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya community under trial. With the support of Bangladesh and other OIC members, Gambia has already raised the issue at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the genocide against Rohingyas. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has also expressed support for the ongoing trial against Myanmar. The significance of this resolution is to obtain tacit consent of China, Russia, Japan and India who have always sided with Myanmar in the Rohingya issue.

Third, the resolution put emphasis on further actions based on the recommendations of the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission set up by the United Nations, published in August 2018. It is pertinent to note that in 2016, when the Rohingyas were tortured, persecuted and oppressed in Rakhine, about 87,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh. An Independent Fact-Finding Commission was formed at the time, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Despite the Annan Commission's report dated August 24, 2017, new incidents of murder, rape, torture and genocide began in Rakhine on August 25. As a result, the Annan Commission's report and its significance were overshadowed by the severity of the brutality of the Tatmadaw. In such a context, the UN formed a three-member ‘Independent Fact-Finding Commission’ to re-investigate the incident in 2017, which released its report in August 2018. The resolution of UNHRC on July 12 unanimously accepted and acknowledged the importance to implement the recommendations of the report of the Kofi Annan Commission and the Independent Fact-Finding Commission.

In conclusion, the unanimous adaptation of the UNHRC resolution is a diplomatic achievement of Bangladesh to bring China, Russia, Japan and India on a single platform, to create the possibility for them to side with Bangladesh on Rohingya issues in the future. The process of repatriation of Rohingya will also be expedited if the process of implementation of the recommendations of the independent commission is started and if the genocide against Rohingyas is brought to justice. If that happens, a long-term and lasting solution to the long four-decade Rohingya refugee crisis could pave the way for Bangladesh to come out from the current mountainous burden of the refugee crisis.

The writer is a Research Assistant, Central Foundation for International and Strategic Studies (CFISS), Dhaka, Bangladesh.E-mail: [email protected]

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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