Chicago Journal of International Law


Human rights violations continue today at an alarming pace. To appreciate the severity of these violations, and the seemingly ineffectual response by the international legal regime, one need look no further than the persecuted Muslim Rohingya. The Rohingya people, an ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar, have been the subject of state-sponsored violence for years, a trend that continues despite Myanmar's recent moves towards democracy. Two of Myanmar's neighbors, Thailand and Bangladesh, have contributed to the problem by violating the international legal principle of non-refoulement. This Comment argues that the International Court ofJustice can play a larger role in policing and remedying human rights violations, using the Muslim Rohingya as a case study. The Court's jurisdictional requirements to hear a contentious case are stringent, and participation in an ICJ case generally requires the consent of the states involved. However, several current human rights treaties provide a way to get the plight of the Rohingya into the Court. Moreover, the Rohingya's plight can also be the subject of an ICJ advisory opinion, which would be more difficult than a contentious case to enforce, but which can be brought before the ICJ with relative ease, and which can be transformed from soft law to hard law by other international actors.