Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2011

Publication Citation

18 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 563 (2011)


"[O]ur struggle for democracy is a struggle for our everyday life." This, in the words of long-detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, describes the isolated pariah state of Burma. Under brutal military rule since 1962, Burma is still desperately trying to change its deplorable circumstances through the leadership of Suu Kyi, but continues to fail due to the regime-written "new" constitution that guarantees the regime's continued leading role in the state apparatus.2 Illegitimate elections and continued repression of the democratic opposition allow for the regime's violations of basic human rights to continue. Rights violations that include displacement, forced labor, rape, and murder-making it one of the world's most oppressive regimes. Following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, the regime obstructed the delivery of any outside aid to its people, exacerbating the country's problems and causing the death of thousands from starvation and lack of medical attention. This led many in the international community to invoke an emerging international norm that recasts sovereignty as a responsibility, rather than- a privilege, a doctrine entitled the "Responsibility to Protect." This Note argues that Burma represents the ideal case study for application of the doctrine, and that while the regime's appalling actions taken after Cyclone Nargis were a missed opportunity for such application, the atrocities that persist inside the country continue to help make a tangible case.