May 28, 2009
A new report issued by the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School calls for the UN Security Council to act on human rights abuses in Burma. The report, “Crimes in Burma,” comes in the wake of renewed international attention due to the continued persecution of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi.
“The UN Security Council has taken action regarding Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sudan when it identified information strongly suggesting the existence of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” said Tyler Giannini, the clinical director of the Human Rights Program at HLS. “As our research shows, UN documents clearly and authoritatively suggest that the human rights abuses occurring in Burma are not isolated incidents. Failure by the UN Security Council to take action and to investigate these crimes could mean that violations of international criminal law will go unchecked.”
The report is based on an analysis of scores of UN documents dating back to 1992, including UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights resolutions, as well as reports from several different Special Rapporteurs.
Major abuses cited by the United Nations documents include forced displacement of more than 3,000 villages in eastern Burma, and widespread and systematic sexual violence, torture, and summary execution of innocent civilians.
Several HLS students involved in the Human Rights Program clinical program contributed to the research and writing of the report, including Julianne Kerr Stevenson LL.M. ’09, María Alejandra Cárdenas Ceron LL.M. ’09, Anna Lamut ’10, Eric Motika ’09, Claret Vargas ’10, Leigh Sylvan ’10, Daniel Edmonds LL.M. ’09, Anne Healy ’10, and Ashwin Kaja ’11.
“Crimes in Burma” was commissioned by five of the world’s leading international jurists: Judge Patricia Wald, Judge Pedro Nikken, Judge Ganzorig Gombosuren, Sir Geoffrey Nice, and Judge Richard Goldstone, who was a visiting professor at HLS last fall.