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The Road Not Taken: Failure to Protect from Atrocity Crimes in Myanmar


  • Malina Greta Meret Gepp Columbia University



R2P, Myanmar, Atrocity Crimes


In 2005, more than 150 heads of State and government pledged that the world must never witness another Rwanda. They accepted the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) both their own populations, and those of other States from atrocity crimes. Yet, in late August 2017, thousands of Rohingya had to flee from the alleged genocide taking place in their home, northern Rakhine in Myanmar. The international community, equipped with a toolbox developed and refined over the past 12 years, does nothing more than politely asking Myanmar to stop. This begs the question: to what extent can the Responsibility to Protect doctrine be used to save the Rohingya from atrocities committed against them? This article explores the potential application of the R2P in the context of Myanmar by exploring the root causes of the alleged genocide, the legal status of the R2P and various options open to the international community to protect the Rohingya. The case is made that applying the R2P – in its current shape and form – would be in the best interest of the Rohingya. After all, the international community cannot stand by in the wake of another mass atrocity.