On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council passed its first Myanmar resolution in 74 years. It demanded an end to violence, and urged the military junta for all political prisoners to be released, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar is in crisis after the army overtook Suu Kyi’s elected government and took control on February 1, 2021. They detained her and other officials, and responded to protests with deadly force and pro-democracy dissent.
Britain’s U.N. stated that “Today, we have sent a clear message to the army that they should not be in any doubt – and we expect this resolution will be fully implemented.” After the British-drafted resolution was voted on, Ambassador Barbara Woodward spoke out.
Woodward stated that he had also conveyed a message to Myanmar’s people, stating that he wanted progress for their rights and interests.
The debate over how to handle the Myanmar crisis has been a long-running one. Russia and China argue against any strong actions. India and China also abstained on Wednesday’s vote. All 12 remaining members voted for.
China’s U.N. says “China still has worries.” After the vote, Ambassador Zhang Jun spoke to the council. There is no easy solution to this problem. It is up to Myanmar whether or not the issue can be resolved properly in the end.
According to him, China wanted the Security Council not to issue a resolution but a formal statement about Myanmar.
Russia’s U.N. Vassily Nebenzia, Ambassador to Russia said that Moscow didn’t view Myanmar’s situation as a threat for international security or peace. Therefore, the U.N. Security Council should not deal with it.
The resolution was welcomed by Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary-of State. He stated in a statement that “this is an important step taken by the Security Council for the resolution to address the crisis, and end Burma’s escalating violence against civilians”
The council has only made formal statements about Myanmar so far. In 2017, the US called it genocide. Myanmar denied genocide, and claimed it was fighting a legit campaign against the insurgents that attacked police stations.
In September, negotiations began on the Security Council draft resolution. Reuters saw the initial text, which called for an end to arms transfers to Myanmar. It also threatened sanctions. However, that language was later removed.
Adopted resolution expresses concern at “grave effect” of the current state of emergency that was imposed on Myanmar by the military after it took power.
The resolution calls for “concrete, immediate actions” in order to implement the peace plan of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It also urges the “uphold democracy institutions and processes as well as constructive dialogue and reconciliation according to the will and interest of the people”.
In 1948, the Security Council adopted the only other resolution. It recommended that the U.N. General Assembly accept Myanmar (then Burma) as a member.
Myanmar’s U.N. Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun (who still holds the U.N. chair and represents Suu Kyi) stated that while the resolution contained positive elements, the National Unity Government, which is made up of remnants from the ousted government, would prefer a stronger text.
He stated that “We know this is just the first step.” The National Unity Government appeals to the UNSC to (to build on) this resolution and take stronger and more effective action to end the military junta’s crimes and to bring an end to them.”