The international human rights regime has several glaring and well-documented shortfalls, and to some extent these have become the acceptable norm – they are still criticized, but their predictability has allowed the world to work around the problem. The deadlock in the Security Council, the lack of an indigenous police force and the relative non-justifiability of economic and social rights as just some of the problems that plague universal human rights application. Only when it comes to refugee law and refugee rights, the international regime becomes an apathy ridden, unpredictable and discriminatory system which acts as a catalyst in propagating atrocities across the world – such as the plight of stranded Rohingya asylum seekers.

Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims, fleeing from the ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Burmese government, are being shunted across the Strait of Malacca by the Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai governments; all of whom refuse to let the refugees land and receive vital supplies and food. Each government refuses to let the refuges come ashore arguing that this would prompt thousands of future asylum seekers to come to their countries and overburden their economy. Apart from the fact that mutually denying such refugees is actively propagating a humanitarian crisis, Ii is a shame that heads of states and senior government officials are making such when all of these countries are mandated by international law to allow to provide aid to legitimate refuges.

Yet the ability of these countries, as well as several first-world countries, to avoid these obligations is based on international law’s weak and discriminatory refugee law. The 1951 Convention Relating To the Status of Refugees - of which the concerned nations are not signatories – envisioned a system which makes a distinction between economic and political refugees; allowing cold war nations to give asylum to political defectors, while ignoring legitimate refuges fleeing from natural disasters and economic crisis. The resulting policy of discrimination has made refusing entry to asylum seekers legally justifiable, suspending the ethics and morals of watching people starve.

The crisis is not just a refugee crisis, but can amount to genocide on the part of the Burmese government as well as the states that are refusing aid and shelter. One also wonders where is the international Muslim community in all this and why enough lobbying is not being done to save the lives of these stranded people? Or are we too obsessed with carpet-bombing Yemen?