Navigating between Pragmatism and Principle: Australia's Foreign Policy Response to the 2017 Rohingya Crisis [IN PRESS]

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    The escalation of violence by Myanmar's military forces against ethnic Rohingya populations in Rakhine State in 2017 served as a test case for Australia's commitment to R2P, and its capacity to protect populations from widespread and systematic atrocities in its own regional neighbourhood. Australia's response to the crisis in Myanmar was mixed; it co-sponsored a UN Human Rights Council resolution to establish the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar that was instrumental in determining the extent and nature of violence committed by Myanmar's armed forces during the so-called 'clearance operations', and provided substantial humanitarian aid for affected Rohingya populations. Australia has, however, been criticised for not doing enough to pressure the government of Myanmar on the issue, for maintaining defence cooperation with Myanmar throughout the crisis, and for its reluctance to accept Rohingya refugees fleeing the violence. This article examines Australia's response to the Rohingya crisis in the areas of international, regional, and bilateral diplomacy, humanitarian assistance, and defence cooperation. It asks why Australia did not take a more proactive role in confronting atrocities committed by the Myanmar government, and identifies lessons learnt and recommendations for strengthening Australia's atrocity prevention architecture that is consistent with Australia's pragmatic approach to regional assistance and its principled international advocacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)186-217
    JournalGlobal Responsibility to Protect
    Issue number2-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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