When a region ignores a genocide : A case study of ASEAN’s prevention of the Rohingya crisis

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för samhällsstudier (SS)

Abstract: In August 2017, the Myanmar military initiated what the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights called a text-book example of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya ethnic minority. In 2020, Myanmar is called to the International Court of Justice to answer to allegations of committed genocide. As the UN has failed to invoke the responsibility to protect, the world has turned to regional organizations as a prevention mechanism in mass atrocity prevention. The research objective of this study is to examine how Myanmar’s regional organization ASEAN has responded to the oppression of the Rohingya minority, as to explain why the atrocities targeting the Rohingya in Myanmar could not be prevented regionally and add to the research on mass atrocity prevention. This thesis is an abductive text analysis with an analytical framework based on Regional Security Complex Theory, which is used to investigate power relations within the region. This thesis argues that the reason the crisis could not be prevented by ASEAN was due to problems on the national, regional, and international levels. Myanmar’s disinterest in human rights, ASEAN’s norm of non-interference, and the international community’s interest in Myanmar’s rich resources all became obstacles in preventing the atrocity from happening. Since genocide prevention has failed several times since the UN’s genocide convention was adopted and entered into force, it is important to add more research to previous work to understand why mass atrocities continue to happen and how we could prevent these atrocities from happening again. The research looks at the Rohingya crisis to draw learnings that can be added to the research on mass atrocity prevention.

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