The use of serious human rights violations and international crimes has been a hallmark of military conduct in Myanmar for decades. Murder, torture, destruction of property, forced displacement, unlawful deprivation of liberty and brutal sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated against civilian populations have been consistently documented by United Nations actors, international and national civil society and media.
In February 2021, the military (Sit-Tat) initiated an unlawful coup d’état to seize power from the elected civilian government. Senior political figures, including State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, were detained as the coup maker – military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing – installed himself as the chair of a State Administration Council and subsequently Prime Minister. Since the coup, the military has resorted to violence to terrorise the civilian population, killing thousands and detaining tens of thousands, in its attempt to retain military control of Myanmar.
Although the international community has consistently condemned Myanmar’s military, the UN General Assembly (though its Credentials Committee) has yet to formally accept the credentials of Myanmar’s civilian government (the National Unity Government (NUG)), opting to repeatedly defer its decision. This has complicated international justice efforts. The military has appointed a new agent and legal team in respect of the case between The Gambia and Myanmar at the International Court of Justice. In 2021, the NUG submitted an article 12(3) communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) recognising ICC jurisdiction; it has received no formal response to this submission.
LAW's Myanmar Programme
Building on its work supporting Rohingya access to and engagement with international justice, in 2022, LAW established its Myanmar programme focused on post-coup crimes.
In Myanmar, LAW supports the documentation of Conflict Related Sexual Violence, and other human rights violations and international crimes, and seeks to support and empower survivors in pursuing justice.
LAW’s Myanmar programme collaborates with our Rohingya Crisis team to build consensus and support collaboration between the Rohingya and the other peoples of Myanmar.
LAW works closely with the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and the legal team representing The Gambia before the International Court of Justice. LAW also collaborates with and supports other actors involved in initiatives pursuing justice for serious human rights violations and international crimes perpetrated inside Myanmar, including strategic litigation under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction.