The UN Council is calling for an end to violence in Myanmar in the first resolution in decades

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 21 (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years on Wednesday to demand an end to violence and call on the military junta to release all political prisoners, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi .

Myanmar has been in crisis since the military seized power from Suu Kyi’s elected government on February 1, 2021, detaining her and other officials and responding to pro-democracy protests and dissent with lethal force.

“Today we sent a strong message to the military that they should be in no doubt – we expect this resolution to be fully implemented,” British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said after the vote on the British-drafted resolution.

“We have also sent a clear message to the people of Myanmar that we are seeking progress in accordance with their rights, wishes and interests,” Woodward told the 15-member council.

There has long been disagreement over how to handle the Myanmar crisis, with China and Russia opposing decisive action. Both abstained from Wednesday’s vote, along with India. The remaining 12 members voted yes.

“China still has concerns,” China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun told the council after the vote. “There is no quick fix to the problem… Whether or not it can ultimately be properly resolved depends primarily and solely on Myanmar itself.”

He said China wanted the Security Council to adopt a formal statement on Myanmar, not a resolution.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said Moscow does not view the situation in Myanmar as a threat to international peace and security and therefore believes it should not be considered by the UN Security Council.

Myanmar nationals living in Thailand hold a portrait of former Myanmar state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi as they protest the execution of pro-democracy activists, at the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken welcomed the adoption of the resolution. “This is an important step by the Security Council to address the crisis and to end the Burmese military regime’s escalating repression and violence against civilians,” he said in a statement.


Until now, the council had only agreed on official statements on Myanmar, where the military also led a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in 2017 that the United States described as genocide. Myanmar denies the genocide and says it is waging a legal campaign against insurgents who attack police posts.

Negotiations on the draft Security Council resolution began in September. The original text seen by Reuters called for an end to arms transfers to Myanmar and threatened sanctions, but that text has since been removed.

The adopted resolution expressed “deep concern” at the continued state of emergency imposed by the military when it seized power and its “serious impact” on the people of Myanmar.

It called for “concrete and immediate action” to implement a peace plan agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and called for “sustaining democratic institutions and processes and pursuing constructive dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and the interests of the people”.

The only other resolution passed by the Security Council was in 1948, when the body recommended that the UN General Assembly accept Myanmar – then Burma – as a member of the world body.

Myanmar’s UN ambassador Kyaw Mo Tun, who still holds the UN seat and represents Suu Kyi’s government, said that while there were positive elements in the resolution, the National Unity Government – made up of the remnants of the ousted administration – would prefer a more strong text.

“We are clear that this is only a first step,” he told reporters. “The Government of National Unity calls on the UN Security Council (to build) on this resolution to take further and more decisive action to ensure the end of the military junta and its crimes.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Alex Richardson and Grant McCool

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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