International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Myanmar

The Wall Street Journal reported today that “A week of clashes in western Myanmar has left at least 84 people dead and forced some 22,000 people to flee their homes to live in crowded camps along the country’s coast.”  The conflict is between the state’s minority Muslim Rohingyas and the majority Rakhine Buddists.  According to the article, the deep-seated racial and religious prejudices in parts of the country that have existed for several decades are hindering the newly installed, “reform-minded” government’s effort to find a remedy for the violence.  In situations where it is hard to identify specific perpetrators and the “quasicivilian” government is new and relatively unstable; what ways can the international community have a significant impact supporting justice?

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2 responses to “Myanmar

  1. cshipton October 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Reading about cases like Myanmar, of a country that desperately needs to rebuild and stabilize warring factions of their society, my immediate gut reaction is on-the-ground intervention. If only the international community would intervene and solve the issues this nation faces by setting up their justice system, their election structures, etc. I understand that this is completely irrational, and the more I thought about it, the more I figured out why my immediate reaction was immediate intervention: we live in an era where responsibility for the protection of people when their lives might be at stake has become an increasingly prominent principle in international relations. However the more I thought about intervention the more the notion of international precedent concerned me. Not wanting to set a precedent of international interference in a country’s internal affairs, Russia and China have historically been reluctant to support any form of intervention. And while an increasingly important principle of international relations has become the protection of a people when their survival is continually at stake, we can see the unintended backlash international intervention can have (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). David Reiff, a writer for the NY Times puts it best when saying, “…The harsh truth is that it is one thing for people of conscience to call for wrongs to be righted but it is quite another to fathom the consequences of such actions. Good will is not enough; nor is political will…law of unintended consequences may be one of the few iron laws of international politics. And somewhere, despite all the outcry, leaders know that the same people calling for intervention may repudiate it the moment it goes wrong”. To avoid damaging the newly kindled international relationships Myanmar has made with states like the US, perhaps Myanmar would benefit most from legal guidance and assistance from NGOs.

  2. Alana Tiemessen October 30, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    The case of Burma/Myanmar is challenging because the state is difficult to penetrate. The international community seems to have a carrots and sticks approach to pressing for democratization. It seem as though questions of justice and reconciliation are preceded by the needed for democratic reform and stability.

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