UN expert on Myanmar: Security Council resolution not strong enough on 'systematic gross human rights violations'

A demonstration against Myanmar's military coup takes place outside the White House in Washington, DC, USA.
Unsplash/Gayatri Malhotra
A demonstration against Myanmar's military coup takes place outside the White House in Washington, DC, USA.

UN expert on Myanmar: Security Council resolution not strong enough on 'systematic gross human rights violations'

Human Rights

In response to the adoption of the Security Council’s first resolution on Myanmar since the military unleashed a brutal crackdown nearly two years ago, a UN-appointed independent human rights expert warned on Thursday that the carnage would only worsen without “strong, coordinated action” by UN Member States.

Thomas Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, acknowledged as “notable” that the Council crafted and advanced a draft that managed to avoid a veto, but “with all due respect”, said that the resolution adopted yesterday was not enough.

“‘Demanding that certain actions be taken without any use of the Security Council’s Chapter VII authority, will not stop the illegal Myanmar junta from attacking and destroying the lives of the 54 million people being held hostage in Myanmar”, he said in a statement.

“What is required is action”.

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Resolution long time coming

The resolution expressed “deep concern” at the continuing state of emergency since the military seized power and the “grave impact” of the coup on Myanmar's people.

It also urged “concrete and immediate actions” towards implementing a peace plan, which was agreed to by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and called to uphold “democratic institutions and processes”.

The Council has long been split on how to deal with the crisis – with China and Russia arguing against strong action. They, along with India, abstained from Wednesday’s vote while the remaining 12 members voted in favor.

After the vote, China’s ambassador, Zhang Jun, said that his country had wanted the Security Council to adopt a formal statement on Myanmar, not a resolution. Russia's ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said that as Moscow did not view the situation in Myanmar as a threat to international peace and security, it believed that it should not be dealt with by the Council.

Resolution lacks strength

Mr. Andrews spelled out that “the systematic gross human rights violations – amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity – being perpetrated daily on the people of Myanmar by an illegal military junta requires strong, coordinated action by UN Member States”.

He acknowledged that the resolution’s demands – including an immediate end to all forms of violence, the release of political prisoners, unimpeded humanitarian access, and respect for the rights of women and children – are “critically important” but missing are "consequences for the failure to meet them and the imposition of sanctions and accountability for crimes the military has committed to date”.

He stood in accord with Security Council members Norway, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Iceland, and Mexico in saying that the language of the resolution should have been stronger.

‘Wake-up’ call

The resolution makes clear however, that the action required to end the crisis would not come from the Security Council, the UN expert said.

“It is, therefore, imperative that those nations with the political will to support the people of Myanmar take coordinated action immediately to end the carnage”.

He underscored that the resolution should not become “a dead-end…followed by more international inaction”.

“It should be a wake-up call for those nations who support a people under siege”, he continued.

“It is clearly time for the creation of a working coalition of nations who are willing to stand with the people of Myanmar by providing what they need most – action”.

Young people take part in a pro-democracy demonstration in Myanmar.
Unsplash/Pyae Sone Htun
Young people take part in a pro-democracy demonstration in Myanmar.

International failure

The UN expert agreed with the Secretary-General's declaration last month saying that the international community had failed Myanmar.

“This failure cannot be rectified by resolutions that have no consequences”, stressed Mr. Andrews.

Instead, targeted action is needed, including coordinating sanctions, cutting off revenue that finances the junta’s military assaults, and an embargo on weapons and dual-use technology.

“What is required is the political will”, he concluded.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights country situation. The experts are not paid for their work.