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Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy to speak on Rohingya crisis in Myanmar at LKI


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Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy will deliver a lecture on ‘Myanmar: The Rohingya Refugee Crisis, Roots of the Conflict and Possibilities for the Future’ at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) on Thursday, 3 May. 

Dr. Coomaraswamy is a member of an independent three-person United Nations (UN) Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. The UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017. Members of the Mission aim to present solid and comprehensive findings on the human rights situation in Myanmar from 2011 onwards—particularly in the states of Rakhine, Kachin and northern Shan. 

The lecture will begin by covering the uncontested history of Myanmar, particularly to recount conflicts between the Myanmar government and ethnic minorities other than the Rohingyas. This would provide a backdrop on the nature of the Myanmarese state when dealing with minorities in general. 

The lecture will then cover the contested history of Rakhine state and the Rohingyas, as well as the history of legislation against them since independence. It will analyse two specific incidents that have given rise to international outrage—the events of October 2016 and, in particular, the events of August 2017. It will also cover some of the allegations that have been made, based on evidence from the testimonies gathered in Cox Bazaar that were part of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. 

The lecture will conclude by reflecting on future trajectories on accountability and resettlement of refugees, and the future of Myanmar democracy. It will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne, Executive Director of LKI. 

In addition to being a member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Dr. Coomaraswamy serves on the Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka and was formerly Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission. She has also been UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. In 2014, Dr. Coomaraswamy was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as the lead author of the 2015 ‘Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325’.

Dr. Coomaraswamy is a renowned academic and was a Global Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law. She received her B.A. from Yale University, her J.D. from Columbia University, an LL.M. from Harvard University and honorary PhDs from Amherst College, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, CUNY School of Law, and the universities of Edinburgh, Ulster and Essex, amongst others. 

This lecture will convene members of the government, policymakers, business leaders, diplomats, scholars, and civil society. The LKI is a think tank which analyses Sri Lanka’s international relations and strategic interests, chaired by the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka. It reflects the vision of the late Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar by promoting the country’s intellectual profile in foreign policy research and engagement. 

Attendance is by invitation and prior registration. To register your interest, please email programmes@lki.lk with your name and organisational affiliation.


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