Myanmar: Why law reform is urgent and possible (UN statement)

The ICJ today urged law reforms to address discrimination against minorities in Myanmar, during an interactive dialogue with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights on her report on Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar, at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The statement read as follows:

“The ICJ welcomes the report of the High Commissioner,[1] delivered against the background of continuing ethnic armed conflict in Myanmar.

With over 50 years’ experience monitoring and documenting Myanmar’s human rights situation, the ICJ concurs with the High Commissioner’s conclusions and recommendations.

While the root causes of violations and abuses against the Rohingya and other persecuted minorities in Myanmar may be complex, as the Fact-Finding Mission already reported to the Council in September 2018, the steps required to address them are by now “well known”.[2]

One essential step is comprehensive legal and justice sector reform within the country.

In a briefing paper last year, the ICJ recommended three immediately achievable, concrete areas of law reform available to the Government: 1) legislative reform, including most urgently of the 1982 Citizenship Law; 2) Constitutional reform, to protect the right of citizens to full political participation; and 3) interim measures to address discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity.

At the same time, it is imperative the international community continues to support the various international accountability efforts underway, including the work of the International Criminal Court and Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.

The ICJ would like to ask: what role do you see for States and civil society in relation to monitoring and implementation of your recommendations, particularly with respect to law and justice sector reform?”

[1] UN Doc A/HRC/43/18

[2] UN Doc A/HRC/39/64 (12 September 2018), para 102.

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