This statement was issued today (17 November) by a Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson in connection with Germany’s intervention in the proceedings against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice against Myanmar for alleged genocide:
On Wednesday, 15 November, Germany intervened in the genocide case brought by the Gambia against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This intervention was submitted jointly with Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the UK. By taking this step, Germany hopes to support the ICJ in determining the legal position in this important case. Germany feels it has a special responsibility to contribute to the fight against and the prevention and investigation of any potential genocide and to send a message that states will be held accountable for all acts of genocide. Genocide concerns us all, wherever in the world it occurs.
The joint intervention by six countries is unprecedented in the history of the ICJ, and is a marked sign of unity as regards the prosecution and legal investigation of the violence inflicted on the Rohingya and, moreover, as regards state responsibility for the most serious crimes. The written declaration of intervention submitted to the ICJ focuses above all on the issue of sexual violence against women and children. In the view of the German Government, it is important for the ICJ to consider, when reaching its decision, just how destructive sexual violence can be. By stressing this point, Germany seeks to foster greater awareness and consideration of vulnerable groups in international law. Our declaration also underscores the fact that a binding order has already been made by the ICJ, under which Myanmar is obliged to take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of any acts of genocide against the Rohingya.
Since the coup of 2021, the military regime in Myanmar has committed further serious human rights breaches, which are not part of this case, and uses force against everybody that stands in its way. We call on the military regime to immediately stop the escalating violence against the civilian population and to permit Myanmar to move once again towards democracy with legitimate civilian governance.
On 25 August 2017, a massive wave of brutal attacks by the Myanmar military began against communities belonging to the Rohingya ethnic minority. Thousands of men, women and children were killed, raped or tortured. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee within Myanmar, or, predominantly, across the border into Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries. To this day they have not been able to return to their home region, and many of them live in difficult conditions in refugee camps. The situation of ethnic and religious minorities has further deteriorated since the military coup in February 2021 and the escalation of violence. What was particularly shocking in connection with the attacks was the extent of sexual violence against women and children.
The Gambia instituted proceedings before the ICJ in The Hague in November 2019. Specifically, Myanmar was alleged to have committed genocide against the Muslim Rohingya minority since 2016 and thereby to have violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention). Myanmar ratified the Convention in 1956. In January 2020, the ICJ ordered provisional measures as applied for by the Gambia, requiring Myanmar to take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts against the Rohingya within the scope of the Genocide Convention. On 22 July 2022, the ICJ declared that the case was admissible, contrary to the objections raised by Myanmar. The case is currently being considered on its merits.
On 25 August 2022, the fifth anniversary of the Rohingya crisis, Germany announced that it would intervene in the ICJ proceedings. It thereafter drew up a joint declaration with Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the UK, which was submitted to the Court on 15 November 2023. The Maldives also declared its intervention in the proceedings on 15 November.
The case before the ICJ concerns Myanmar’s actions against the Rohingya prior to the coup of 2021.
Click here to read the joint declaration of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.