Saturday, October 16

The UN Security Council takes no action on the coup in Myanmar


The UN envoy for Myanmar urged an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday to ensure that “democracy is quickly restored” to the Southeast Asian nation, but the most powerful UN body took no immediate action. .

Christine Schraner Burgener, Myanmar’s current ambassador to Europe, strongly condemned the military’s takeover of government, saying the council must “collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar” and ensure that the country “do not fall into isolation again.”

Diplomats said restoring democracy was the key element of a draft statement prepared for the council to release to the media after the closed-door meeting, along with a condemnation of the military’s action and a call for release. immediate of all detainees.

But the statement was not issued because it requires the support of the 15 council members, and the UN missions for China and Russia said they needed to send it to their capitals for review, said the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting It was closed. China has close ties with Myanmar.

Schraner Burgener told the council that the declaration of a state of emergency and the arrest by Myanmar’s armed forces of top leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and dozens of lawmakers and civil servants, just as the new parliamentary session was about to about to start on Monday, “it was surprising and shocking.”

The military said the seizure of power was necessary because the government had failed to act on the unfounded claims of fraud by the military in the November elections in which Suu Kyi’s party won the majority of seats.

British ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, current council chairwoman, told reporters after the meeting that ambassadors echoed widespread international concerns about military action in the virtual session.

“And we welcome the role of regional partners … in solving this crisis,” including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he said.

Brunei, which chairs the ASEAN regional group of 10 nations, including Myanmar, issued a statement on Monday noting that the bloc’s principles include “adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance. , the respect and protection of human rights and freedoms “.

The statement encouraged “the continuation of dialogue, reconciliation and return to normalcy in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.”

But he did not mention any action by ASEAN to take the initiative in returning Myanmar to a democratic path.

At the United Nations, Woodward said: “Discussions will continue among council colleagues about next steps. I certainly hope that we will be able to speak with one voice. “

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called Myanmar “a friendly neighbor” on Tuesday and expressed hope that all parties “will properly handle their differences under the constitutional and legal framework and maintain political and social stability. “.

“Any action taken by the international community will contribute to Myanmar’s political and social stability, promote its peace and reconciliation, and prevent the conflict from escalating and complicating the situation,” Wang said in Beijing.

Myanmar has been a very difficult subject for the Security Council to take action, but not impossible.

In November 2017, the council adopted a presidential statement condemning the widespread violence in northern Rakhine State and expressing grave concern over allegations of human rights violations committed by Myanmar security forces against the Rohingya Muslim minority. . He called on the government to guarantee “no more excessive use of military force,” prompting 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

Ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting, the UN director for the Human Rights Watch group, Louis Charbonneau, said that the council’s “abysmal failure to address the egregious human rights abuses in Myanmar’s past assured the military that they could do whatever they wanted without serious consequences. “

He called on the council to demand the immediate release of all detained political leaders and activists and the restoration of democratic civilian government. He said sanctions should be imposed “on responsible military leaders.”

Amnesty International’s Deputy Defense Director Sherine Tadros urged the council to freeze the assets of Major General Min Aung Hlaing, now in charge of the government, and other military leaders responsible for crimes against ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya.

“The Security Council must also impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar and, fundamentally, refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court,” he said.

US President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday called the Myanmar military’s action a coup, setting the stage for sanctions and other measures targeting what State Department officials said was “the very small circle of military generals.” responsable.

While the United States and other Western nations may impose sanctions on Myanmar, it is highly unlikely that the Security Council will pass specific measures. That would require a resolution, which China would likely veto.

Getting approval for a press release is still a possibility, but not a certainty.

Sven Jürgenson, the UN ambassador to the Estonian council member, supported the proposed statement, strongly condemning the coup and urging the Myanmar military to uphold the 2008 constitution, allow Parliament to do its job and “re-engage with the peace process “.


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