Will China still prevent UN action against Myanmar?
China has previously argued that the crisis in Rakhine is linked to poverty and has opposed any step to put pressure on the authorities
The order passed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to protect the Rohingyas has put pressure on the previously dormant United Nations Security Council to take action against Myanmar.
"The ICJ order brings increased scrutiny of Myanmar's horrific brutality against the Rohingya and raises the political cost of the UN Security Council's weak response to the crisis so far," said Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
As per the ICJ Statute, the orders will be automatically sent to the Security Council, which was previously barred from action due to opposition from China and Russia – both allies of Myanmar with veto power in the council.
China has previously argued that the crisis in Rakhine is linked to poverty and has opposed any step to put pressure on the authorities.
After the Rohingya influx to Bangladesh began in August 2017, China had repeatedly called for bilateral cooperation between the two neighbouring countries to resolve the issue. But that plan failed.
But an ICJ ruling now takes away the ball from the court of Myanmar's allies in the face of increased international condemnation.
According to the HRW, the council now has the option to pass a resolution directing Myanmar to lift restrictions on Rohingya's freedom of movement, eliminate unnecessary restrictions on humanitarian access to Rakhine State, repeal discriminatory laws, and ban practices that limit Rohingya access to education, healthcare and livelihoods.
The ICJ order is legally binding because Myanmar explicitly recognised its authority in November last year, and there is no chance of appealing against it.
A top UN representative has already begun urging the international community to pressure Myanmar to obey the ICJ decision.
"The international community should be alert to make sure that Myanmar does not evade any responsibility and must abide by the order issued by the ICJ," Professor Yanghee Lee, United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said on Thursday while addressing journalists in Dhaka.
Referring to China and Russia's role at the Security Council, Lee said she mentioned it many times that it is shameful for those states in the face of credible evidence, reports UNB.
On the domestic front, this judgment has obliterated any remnants of Aung San Suu Kyi's international reputation, according to Nick Beake, Myanmar correspondent for BBC News.
But true to its nature, Myanmar has already started undermining the order.
On Friday, Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy, told Reuters that the government is already following most of the orders given by the ICJ. "One more thing we need to do is submit reports," he added.
Doubting Myanmar, Khin Omar, founder of Progressive Voice and a Burmese democracy activist, said she expects the country to do some "window dressing" in light of the decision.
"The Myanmar government and the military will take the order lightly and will only make cosmetic adjustments or measures domestically," she told Al Jazeera.
"It will, for example, hold trials in military courts to use some who hold lower ranks as scapegoats."
Omar expects "increased government targeting" of civil society groups, particularly organisations that document human rights abuses, and said there would be an "ongoing" genocide of the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar.
On the other side of the border, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh welcomed the ICJ order.
"The Rohingya community is enthusiastic about the ICJ order. If Myanmar abides by all four directives to protect Rohingyas, then we will be able to return to Myanmar – with all rights – by 2020," said Sirajul Islam, a Rohingya leader at the Kutupalong refugee camp.