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Myanmar: UN expert calls for Emergency Coalition to end junta’s “reign of terror”

July 7th, 2021  •  Author:   Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights  •  5 minute read
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GEVEVA (7 July 2021) — The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, today called for the urgent formation of an “Emergency Coalition for the People of Myanmar“ to stop what he described as the military junta’s “reign of terror” in the country.

Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Andrews said it was time to the end “the failure of those outside of Myanmar to take measures that could help end this nightmare”.

“The international community is failing the people of Myanmar,” he said.

Andrews highlighted the extreme human rights abuses committed by the junta, which he described as crimes against humanity. “The junta’s military forces have murdered approximately 900 people, forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands, tortured many, including torturing people in custody to death, disappeared untold numbers, and arbitrarily detained nearly 6,000.”

Despite its brutality, Andrews stressed that the junta has failed to take control of the country after launching its February coup. “The junta captured many levers of State power, the purse strings of Myanmar’s Treasury and the administrative offices, but it has not – not even close – taken control of the nation and its people,” he said. “The people of Myanmar roundly view the junta as illegitimate and, indeed, a terrorist scourge set loose upon them.

“Now, more than ever, we must summon the courage of the people of Myanmar and choose the path of meaningful and sustained action.”

Andrews’ call for an Emergency Coalition for the People of Myanmar would include “nations willing to stand with the people of Myanmar through meaningful, coordinated action”. He added: “It could reduce the junta’s ability to attack its citizens, save the lives of those in acute crisis, and gain political leverage so that the crisis in Myanmar might come to a just and permanent conclusion.”

The UN expert said that a coalition of nations that are willing work together on strong action to pressure the junta was necessary in light of the paralysis that has followed the consensus decision making that has plagued the international response to date. “The UN Security Council, Human Rights Council and General Assembly have offered statements and resolutions but the people of Myanmar need immediate action,” he told the Council in Geneva on Wednesday.

Andrews cited five key actions the Emergency Coalition should take:

  1. Significantly reduce the revenue that the junta needs to continue its reign of terror by coordinated tough targeted sanctions, including against Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise;
  2. Outlaw the export of arms to the Myanmar military, as called for in last month’s General Assembly resolution;
  3. Pursue universal jurisdiction cases and coordinate investigations against Myanmar’s senior security officials;
  4. Dramatically increase humanitarian aid by working with the National Unity Government to utilize non-junta channels to assure that aid goes directly to the people of Myanmar; and
  5. Work together to deny any claims of legitimacy that the junta may try to assert, such as the false claim that they are recognized by the United Nations.

“Future generations may look back upon this moment and ask: ‘Did the people and nations of the world do all that they reasonably could to help the people of Myanmar in their hour of great peril and need?’

“I’m afraid that the honest answer to that question, at this point, is no.

“There is still time to set a new course and achieve a just outcome for the desperate people of Myanmar,” Andrews said. “But time is short and the stakes could not be higher.”


Mr. Thomas Andrews (United States of America) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. A former member of the US Congress from Maine, Andrews is a Robina Senior Human Rights Fellow at Yale Law School and an Associate of Harvard University’s Asia Center. He has worked with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and parliamentarians, NGOs and political parties in Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine and Yemen. He has been a consultant for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the Euro-Burma Network and has run advocacy NGOs including Win Without War and United to End Genocide.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Comprising the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, Special Procedures is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar

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