Rohingya refugees attend a ceremony in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh Aug. 25 to mark the second anniversary of a military crackdown that triggered a massive exodus of people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. (Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images)

The Aug. 25 editorial “For Myanmar, impunity, not accountability” said Western governments should do more to hold the Myanmar military and its backers to account for horrific crimes against the Rohingya. But that lets the West off the hook considerably for what is actually a binding legal obligation as well as a moral one.

The editorial noted that the United Nations fact-finding mission on Myanmar invoked the Genocide Convention in its condemnation of the military’s atrocities. Parties to the convention, which includes most Western nations, are obligated to do everything within their power to prevent and punish Myanmar’s genocide. This means bringing the issue of individual and state responsibility to the Security Council, which should lead to a resolution referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.

Countries are required under the convention to take action regardless of the likelihood of success, so a Russian or Chinese veto is not a valid excuse.

The failure of any concrete action in the West to prevent and punish Myanmar’s genocide is a sobering appraisal of the vulnerability and anemia of the West’s rules-based international legal order.

Grant Shubin, New York

The writer is deputy legal director of the
Global Justice Center.

Read more letters to the editor.