It's only the first step to address a lawsuit filed by Gambia accusing Myanmar of genocide, but an International Court of Justice decision this week is being applauded by the former as "a triumph of international justice." Per Reuters, a 17-member panel from the court at the Hague issued a unanimous ruling Thursday that mandates Myanmar must "take all measures within its power to prevent all acts" that violate the United Nations' 1948 Genocide Convention and that are committed against its vulnerable Rohingya Muslim population. That means, per the judgment read aloud by presiding Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf, that Myanmar has to instruct its military and other armed factions to protect the Rohingya—more than 730,000 of whom fled to Bangladesh in 2017—against any violence meant to bring about the group's "physical destruction in whole or in part."
The ruling notes that the Rohingya face a "real and imminent risk," and that Myanmar will be held accountable for all protective measures taken via regular reports it now has to submit on how it's been adhering to this order, per the New York Times. Myanmar's first report is due in four months, Yusuf said. Reuters notes this ruling is a response only to Gambia's request for preliminary measures, and that the court's decision on the overall lawsuit could take years. The court order isn't enforceable, though UN member countries can request assistance from the Security Council after rulings have been issued. "The chances of [Myanmar leader] Aung San Suu Kyi implementing this ruling will be zero unless significant international pressure is applied," the head of human rights group Burma Campaign UK tells the Times. (Read more Myanmar stories.)