This volumes constitutes a valuable and unique history of the United Nations human rights programme and its secretariat. It offers interpretations of the history of the programme and its secretariat against the background of historical currents such as the Cold War, colonialism and decolonisation, and covers the seminal period during which the programme moved decisively towards human rights fact-finding and the denunciation of violations of human rights, which took place in the latter part of the 1970s and the 1980s. The author was a central player in this period, having served as the Special Assistant to three Directors of the Human Rights Division, and so provides historical materials that only he is aware of, having been at the heart of the action. He also provides snapshots of United Nations human rights leaders from the beginning of the United Nations, all of whom he knew personally, and writes about the contributions of NGOs and NGO leaders who served the cause of human rights with fortitude and determination.
Two years since the arsa attacks and the military’s clearing operations in Rakhine, violence and continuing atrocities are being committed by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) against the Rohingya and Arakanese civilians in Myanmar. This article examines the developments since August 2017 and the continuing failure of the international community to adequately respond to human rights violations and humanitarian needs of conflict-affected communities inside and outside of Myanmar. The article argues that despite the strong international outrage against the Tatmadaw’s atrocities, the international community’s failure to act springs from three main factors. First, the United Nations remains divided in response to the crisis as a result of ongoing systemic and structural deficiencies. Second, there is a lack of political will on the part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean) to collectively impose sanctions against an erring member. Finally, the ongoing full autonomy of the Tatmadaw to operate above the law and remain unaccountable for continuing atrocities in the country. Their autonomy is facilitated by a precarious democratic transition led by Aung San Suu Kyi who appears more concerned about domestic repercussions of giving in to international pressure than about her tarnished reputation as a human rights defender. This article details the ongoing humanitarian needs of affected communities within and outside the country.
In 2015, the Myanmar Government, the Myanmar Tatmadaw (military) and eight ethnic armed organisations (eaos) signed the 2015 National Ceasefire Agreement (nca). In 2019, this agreement was signed by three more eaos, and there have been four annual conferences (Union Peace Panglong Conference 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). The ceasefire arrangements, which are present primarily in Southeast Myanmar, have failed to make significant progress in key areas such as the provision of access to civil documents and land to returning refugees, displaced persons and conflict-affected communities. Violence has escalated in the last two years. It is not an exaggeration to say that Myanmar is at a critical juncture of transition. This article examines how the peace process is being communicated amongst different civil society organisations, international organisations, donor organisations, and government representatives in an area directly affected by the peace process. The article details the experiences of these participants exchanged in workshop in Mon State in July 2018. The exchanges during the workshop reveal a practical obstacles faced by civil society organisations, especially, in their attempt to support returnees. Many reported frustration with the implementation gap between promoting a peace process and providing for local enabling conditions that support peace. Specific barriers faced by civil society organisations, and in turn the communities they are seeking to help were threefold: information and communication barriers concerning the peace process; women’s fear and reluctance to seek services due to personal safety concerns, and the persistence of traditional gender norms which affects access to information.
In spite of optimistic views on the feasibility of the R2P operationalisation in Southeast Asia, reconciling global norms with regional principles is not an easy task given the cult of sovereignty that inhibits socialisation and implementation of R2P. Using the case study of Indonesia’s foreign policy implementation in Myanmar, this article demonstrates that asean’s (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) non-interference principle does not necessarily negate R2P norms. Indonesia’s approach in Myanmar reflects Pillar 2 of R2P which underlines the importance of equal sovereignty and the greater role of trusted partners. Indonesia’s preference to quiet diplomacy instead of naming and shaming or utilising sanctions is an effective way to open Myanmar’s resistance. At the same time, the pledge of Indonesia’s humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees represents alternative instruments of Pillar3 aside from the use of force. This argument implies that intervention does not always require coercion against authoritarian regimes, as employed by the West for decades.
The responsibility to protect norm has been associated with prevention activities such as national capacity building. There has also been recognition that social and economic development may have a relationship to this principle. Physical and social infrastructure is said to contribute to development and may be delivered by private actors, including via partnerships between the state and foreign investors, donors and institutions. However, the role that private investors play in relation to responsibility to protect activities remains unclear. This article explores the relationship between private actors, infrastructure and the responsibility to protect in the context of Myanmar. It argues that considering these topics together presents opportunities and risks, since infrastructure might help to prevent atrocities, but can also — as in Myanmar — contribute to their commission. Careful planning and consultation are crucial when funding and managing infrastructure projects, supported by laws, guidelines, and the concepts of responsibility and prevention.
This article draws together existing data and research on the organisation and structure of the Myanmar military (‘Tatmadaw’) and its use of sexual violence in military operations. It argues that from this data, a pattern emerges of rape-permissive military doctrines being employed by the same type of Tatmadaw units across multiple military operations, over many decades and sites. Unpacking each aspect of this posited pattern reveals an endemic rape culture within the Myanmar military that seems to be repeatedly utilised for strategic purposes in counter-insurgency operations. Investigating the potential origins of this rape-permissive culture, the article argues that Tatmadaw recruiting, training and deployment processes cultivate sexual violence as a permissible form of violence that is then tolerated by the Tatmadaw high command, most likely due to its efficacy in achieving its military strategies.
The book is designed to provide an overview of the development, meaning, and nature of international humanitarian law (IHL). It presents a critical review of the protection of the injured, sick and shipwrecked, prisoners of war (POWs) and civilians during times of war, the prevention of forcible transfer of civilians, the four Geneva Conventions from a Third World point of view, the ideals of distinction, proportionality and precaution from the point of view of Islamic law and the issues faced in implementing IHL.
This lucidly written and timely book will greatly benefit anyone interested in the protection of victims of armed conflict.
Notes on editors; Notes on contributors; List of acronyms and abbreviations; Preface; Foreword;
International Legal Protection of Persons Affected by War: Challenges and the Way Forward, Md Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan and Borhan Uddin Khan
1 The Development of the Geneva Conventions, Borhan Uddin Khan and Nazmuzzaman Bhuian
2 The Legal Status and Protection of the Rights of Prisoners of War, Md Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan
3 The Prohibition of Deportation and Forcible Transfer of Civilian Populations in the Fourth Geneva Convention and Beyond, Etienne Henry
4 Combatants Aboard Medical Aircraft Who Fall into the Hands of a Neutral Power – the Scope of Their Liability to Detention Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Yutaka Arai-Takahashi
5 Forced Transfer of Aliens during Armed Conflicts, Pablo Antonio Fernández Sánchez
6 The Geneva Conventions and Non-International Armed Conflicts, Noelle Higgins
7 Four Geneva Conventions of 1949: A Third World View, Srinivas Burra
8 Criminalising Rape and Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts: Evolving Criminality and Culpability from the Geneva Conventions to the Bangladesh International Crimes Trial, M Rafiqul Islam
9 Principles of Distinction, Proportionality and Precautions under the Geneva Conventions: The Perspective of Islamic Law, Mohd Hisham Mohd Kamal
10 Implementation of International Humanitarian Law and the Current Challenges, Borhan Uddin Khan and Nakib Muhammad Nasrullah
11 The Geneva Conventions and Enforcement of International Humanitarian Law, Derek Jinks
The universal protection of human rights remains the core challenge of the United Nations if it is to achieve its mission of a world of peace, development and justice. Yet, at a time of seismic changes in the world, when shocking violations of human rights are taking place world-wide, the UN human rights system is in need of urgent modernization. This book, written by a foremost scholar-practitioner who previously exercised the functions of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, advances a series of ideas to modernize the UN protection system. Among a dozen key proposals are that the UN human rights system should help alleviate the plight of the poorest, pay greater attention to the national protection system of each country, and establish a World Court on Human Rights that can deal with countries which grievously violate human rights. Unlike other texts that have focused on those topics, this book not only provides comprehensive analysis but, crucially, offers practical and workable solutions based on the author's significant expertise and experience. Scholars, practitioners, and students of international human rights will benefit immensely from its analysis, insights, perspectives, and proposals. It is a salutary contribution on the 75th anniversary of the UN (2020).