When the Law is Used to Justify Unjust Actions - A Critical Analysis of the Usage of Legal Concepts in the Rohingya-Rakhine Conflict
Abstract: The aim of this study is to explore how actors involved in the ongoing Rohingya-Rakhine conflict in Myanmar apply legal concepts relating to the laws of war in their political discourses in order to legitimize political ends. The study examines the political discourses of three actors; the Burmese government, the insurgent group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), and the United Nations (UN), which cf. critical legal theory is considered an actor rather than an arena. The study assesses speeches, press statements and resolutions given by the three actors through Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis. It is concluded that all three actors ascribe to a public international law-oriented discourse, which, due to international law’s focus on sovereign states, provides the actors with a state-centric understanding of the conflict and its potential solutions. Consequently, the Burmese government is viewed by the UN as the actor responsible for actively restoring peace while ARSA is left out of the formal political processes. Furthermore, it is found that the Burmese government engages in a securitization process in which they identify ARSA as a threat. It is concluded that while the UN does condemn violence committed by both sides, the view of the Burmese government as the actor responsible for solving the conflict coupled with the Burmese government’s political use of legal concepts and implementation of securitization, allows for the government to exercise unlawful violence against the Rohingyas and ARSA without any other external interference than condemnation.
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