The Role of the International Community in the Rohingya Crisis
After a recent visit to Bangladesh, Andrew Gilmour, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, reported that “the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues”.  Gilmour added that “the nature of the violence has changed from the frenzied blood-letting and mass rape of last year to a lower intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation that seems to be designed to drive the remaining Rohingya from their homes and into Bangladesh."  For decades, the Rohingya have been denied citizenship under Burmese law.  Since last August, the Burmese military has carried out an ethnic cleansing campaign and more than 688,000 Rohingya have fled Burma’s Rakhine state as a result.  Unfortunately, Gilmour does not believe the refugees will be able to return any time soon. 
With no end to the Rohingya’s woes in sight, how should the international community respond to the crisis? The UN has not conducted a humanitarian intervention since the operations in Kosovo and Iraq.  In order for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct a criminal investigation into the persecution of the Rohingya, the UN would need to refer the situation to the ICC.  However, this would be difficult considering that China and Russia – both veto-holding members of the Security Council’s Permanent Five – are opposed to such action. 
Failing UN action, individual state action is possible.  In February, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously voted to support new legislation to address Burma’s human rights violations.  If passed, the bill would further enable the U.S. government to impose sanctions and travel restrictions on military and other security personnel involved in abuses against the Rohingya.  So far, Burma’s leadership has ignored diplomatic pressure.  Hopefully this bill, and similar measures taken by other countries, can provide much-needed pressure to end the discrimination and abuse against the Rohingha.
This post is a student blog post and in no way represents the views of the Fordham International Law Journal.