Saturday, December 26, 2020

Military Self-Interest in Self-Accountability for War Crimes: Myanmar Edition

SONG Tianying has authored this policy brief applying self-interested reasons for state and non-state actors in recent conflict in Myanmar to hold their members accountable for war crimes. The situation: 

Myanmar is home to some of the world’s longest-running armed conflicts, with some ethnic conflicts dating back more than 70 years. Militarisation and insecurity have perpetuated minority areas. At the time of writing in 2020, Myanmar has some twenty powerful non-state armed groups around most of its periphery. These armed groups are formed around ethnic identities (for example, the Karen National Union or the United Wa State Army) with stated objectives of greater autonomy for their community. These armed groups fight for or against the State military (the ‘Tatmadaw’), and ally with or fight against each other. Since Myanmar’s independence in 1948, the Tatmadaw has been fighting counter-insurgency wars across a significant part of the territory. Since early 2019, the armed conflict between the Tatmadaw and Arakan Army in Rakhine State has witnessed vicious fighting.

The policy brief applies principles developed by SONG and Morten Bergsmo in an edited volume of self-interested reasons for armed forces to pursue accountability for war crimes by their own members. That project arose from a 2012 conference in Palo Alto between the Center for International Law Research and Policy, Stanford University, and the UC Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center. 

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