When Interests Triumph over Humanity: Rohingya Crisis


While there is international outcry to end the genocide over the Rohingyas, Russia and China blocked the UN Security Council’s resolution to stop the crisis. Calculating their economic, political and geo-strategic interests, Russia and China-these two countries have backed Myanmar whenever the UN tried to take any kind of action with regard to Myanmar’s gross violation of human rights.

It is observed that due to such stances of Russia and China, UN Security Council could not do much to stop even Syrian crisis which was supposed to end much earlier. Then the question comes, are we going to see another ‘Rwandan genocide’ where the UN is seen as a failed institution. In fact, this will have a number of negative implications for a peaceful international relations.

First of all, states and especially in case of autocratic or repressive one, they will not care about human rights to its people anymore if they have strong ties with the P5 members. Because at the end of the day, these P5 members will protect them, will appreciate their heinous atrocities. So, these will produce many more Myanmar in the days to come.

Second, a realist international relations will prevail-based on interests and power over humanity and justice. Such international relations will bring disastrous consequences for the world, will not work for the majority but for the privileged few.

 Third, the legitimacy of the UN, as an institution to protect its people will be in question. In fact, the UN is the last hope for tens of thousands marginalized, voiceless people around the world. But if the members of P5 follow a realist international relations embracing narrowly defined national interests, it becomes difficult for the UN to work as an institution for all, for the people. And the world might experience lots of such genocide in the days to come if the UN fails to protect its people, to take actions against the perpetrators. Even the world might experience another World War if power-politics triumph over global governance institutions like the UN.

Fourth, conflict and competition will triumph over cooperation and peace due to such practices. Thus, the world we embrace today, a world of shared peace, prosperity and inter-dependence will be in question. And this Rohingya crisis, power-politics and the role of UN also provides negative message to many that why they will come forward to help the oppressed or the helpless people? Despite having lots of its domestic challenges, Bangladesh has come forward for the Rohingya refugees. Even Bangladesh has taken risks that in any time, there might be a health crisis arising from the Rohingyas. Bangladesh has showed the world that even a poor, developing country can work for the humanity which is absent in case of many powerful states in the world. But if the UN fails to take actions protecting the Rohingyas, then others will not come forward to help the oppressed in the near future.

Finally, what is the lesson that we are giving to the future generations? What will they learn? A realist international relations? A world that doesn’t work for them? An uncertain, insecure future?

Against the above backdrop, it’s high time to reform the UN Security Council, especially its veto power. It’s high time to work for the humanity over narrowly defined national interests. It’s high time to nurture and practice a peaceful international relations for the betterment of all.

Shariful Islam
Shariful Islam
Md. Shariful Islam is an assistant professor in International Relations at the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Currently, he is on study leave and pursuing Ph.D. in International Relations at South Asian University, New Delhi. Email: shariful_ruir[at]ru.ac.bd