Myanmar's mass-atrocities against the Rohingya minority, qualified by UN sources as a genocide, is one of the most pressing accountability challenges of our time. It has resulted in a mass-exodus of up to 1 million refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh with harrowing stories of violence. Given the failure of the UN Security Council to make a Chapter VII referral to the ICC, what options are available for eradicating impunity? On April 9th, the ICC Prosecutor submitted a controversial Request for a decision on whether the crime against humanity of deportation falls within the Court's jurisdiction in regard to the mass-exodus of the Rohingya from Myanmar (a non-State party) to Bangladesh (a State party). On September 6th, a Pre-Trial Chamber ruled that the ICC has jurisdiction and called for an expeditious investigation. Is this a radical or routine interpretation of territorial jurisdiction under the Rome Statute, and what potential implications will it have for both the ICC and the Rohingya?
Payam Akhavan LLM SJD (Harvard) is Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, with prior academic appointments at Yale, Oxford, Paris, Florence (EUI), and Leiden. He is a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, and former Legal Advisor to the Prosecutor's Office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1994-2000). He has also served with the UN in Bosnia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Timor Leste, and Rwanda, and appeared as counsel before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Supreme Courts of Canada and the United States. He serves as counsel to Bangladesh in the ICC Rohingya Case.