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GAMBIA v MYANMAR: Gambia Files Its Case At The International Court of Justice

On Friday 23rd October 2020, The Gambia filed its case – called a ‘memorial’ – against the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Myanmar) at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands. The memorial, consisting of over 500 pages, includes another 5,000 pages of supporting materials.


The Gambia alleges that Myanmar has violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1951 (‘the Genocide Convention’) in relation to its treatment of the Rohingya people. The Rohingya are an ethnic, Muslim-minority group who reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Over a million Rohingya people have fled from Myanmar and are now living as refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh. The Gambia also alleges that the violence and genocide against the Rohingya is continuing.


The Gambia brought the initial application to institute proceedings against Myanmar in November 2019. It also requested provisional measures. On 20th January 2020, the International Court of Justice unanimously passed binding measures against Myanmar. These included a measure providing that Myanmar take all steps within its power to prevent genocide, including killings, affliction of serious mental and bodily harm, and other acts listed in the Genocide Convention.


Myanmar must now file a counter-memorial at the International Court of Justice by 23rd July 2021, which will respond to the allegations made by The Gambia. The case is expected to last several years.

Here are some exercises for you to try, if you want. The answer key is at the end of the exercises.


Exercise 1


Find a word or phrase in the text which means:


1. To break or fail to comply with a rule or agreement.

2. The killing of large numbers of people from a particular nation or ethnic group.

3. A person who is forced to leave their country to escape events such as war, famine, persecution, and so on.

4. To begin or commence something.

5. Plans or a course of action which are designed to achieve particular purposes.

Exercise 2


Complete the following sentences with the most appropriate word from the choices given.


1. Proceedings before the International Court of Justice can be …………………….. [grounded/founded/instituted] by means of an application addressed as specified in Article 40.

2. Under Article 38, paragraph 2, of the Rules of the International Court of Justice, the application shall ………………………… [say/specify/claim] as far as possible the legal grounds upon which the jurisdiction of the Court is said to be based.

3. Under Article 45 of the Rules of the International Court of Justice, the pleadings in a case begun by an application include a ………………………. [Statement of Case/Claim Form/Memorial] by the Applicant.

[Pleadings is a legal word for the formal written statements by parties in a legal case].

4. The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial ………………………. [establishment/corporation/organ] of the United Nations.

5. The ……………………. [seat/chair/stool] of the International Court of Justice is at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.

ANSWER KEY

Exercise 1

1. to violate.

2. genocide

3. refugee

4. to initiate

5. measures

Exercise 2

1. instituted

2. specify

3. Memorial

4. organ

5. seat

© Cambridge Legal English Academy 2020

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