By Alagie Manneh
In a significant development at The Hague, Netherlands, five European countries and Canada have taken a unified step to intervene in the ongoing legal battle against Myanmar over allegations of genocide. The case, initiated by Gambia at the United Nations’ highest court—the International Court of Justice (ICJ)—has drawn international attention to the plight of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.
The ICJ announced that Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK had joined forces with Canada through a “declaration of intervention” in support of Gambia’s case. Furthermore, the Maldives submitted its declaration separately. This collective move underscores an intensified global effort to address what has been described as egregious violations against humanity.
The case against Myanmar Gambia brought forth this legal challenge back in 2019 amidst widespread condemnation over Myanmar’s treatment towards its Muslim Rohingya population. Hundreds of thousands were forced into exile across borders into Bangladesh due to what has been called a severe crackdown by Myanmar’s military forces.
According to Gambia’s claim underpinning their pursuit for justice is both nations’ commitment to the 1948 Genocide Convention—a treaty designed specifically to prevent and punish acts of genocide. They assert that all parties are obligated not merely by signature but through active enforcement measures when breaches occur. Consequently, they have requested that the ICJ officially recognize Myanmar’s actions as contraventions against this international agreement. Jurisdiction and Hearings While it has been established that ICJ holds jurisdiction over this matter—thereby allowing proceedings—the scheduling for formal hearings remains pending. The heart-wrenching narrative behind these legalities involves more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing from their homes following what Myanmar’s military termed as “clearance operations” triggered by insurgent attacks within Rakhine state back in 2017.
Allegations laid out include mass sexual violence, extrajudicial killings and large-scale destruction property; charges which paint a grim picture of human rights abuses on an industrial scale.
Myanmar’s Defense in response to these accusations and subsequent legal action by Gambia on behalf of itself—and symbolically representing wider interests including those aligned with Organization Islamic Cooperation—Myanmar sought dismissal from proceedings based on arguments pertaining exclusively nation-state disputes being within World Court’s purview rather than organizational representation or individual nations without direct connection events occurring within its borders. This defense was ultimately rejected by judges who also refuted claims posited suggesting absence pre-existing dispute between two countries prior filing suit thus confirming legitimacy Gambian involvement despite geographical separation incident location itself.