Five Point(less) Consensus

May 1st, 2022  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  9 minute read
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“ASEAN and the broader international community have a responsibility to amplify and support the will of the people”.

Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Special Envoy to Myanmar

One year ago on 24 April, 2021, ASEAN leaders – without participation of legitimate government of Myanmar, the National Unity Government (NUG) or Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAO) – drew up the Five Point Consensus in the presence of illegitimate junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, to address the Myanmar crisis resulting from the military’s attempted coup d’état. Since then, the military junta has openly and publicly defied the consensus, both in their words and actions. The military junta has severely increased its brutality on Myanmar’s civilian population, through airstrikes, massacres, scorched earth campaigns, rape and sexual violence, torture, arbitrary arrests, looting, destroying or stealing property, and razing villages. Yet, ASEAN’s response both politically and in terms of humanitarian aid has utterly failed. On the eve of the one year anniversary of the Five Point Consensus, civil society and the people of Myanmar have repeated their calls to the international community to abandon the consensus in favor of an international coordinated response, one that will end the military junta’s terror campaign against the people and hold the military junta to account.

It was clear from the outset, the Five Point Consensus was doomed to fail. Its namesake is very misleading given the exclusion of major stakeholders, and complete disregard for the Myanmar people’s democratic will. Nevertheless, the “consensus” called for the cessation of violence, dialogue among conflict parties, mediation facilitated by an ASEAN Special Envoy, the delivery of humanitarian aid through ASEAN, and for the ASEAN Special Envoy to visit Myanmar to meet with all parties. Yet, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing had no intention of following through, almost immediately backtracking on his word before the ink had dried on the consensus, saying the military would consider the proposals “after stabilizing the country”.

Throughout the last year, ASEAN has been largely ineffective in responding to the crisis in Myanmar, both politically and through ASEAN’s humanitarian response, tacitly emboldening the military junta to continue its nationwide terror campaign against the people of Myanmar with blanket impunity. One action by ASEAN, that Myanmar people welcomed, was to not extend an invitation to Min Aung Hlaing to attend the ASEAN Summit in October 2021. While still a low bar, it was a step in the right direction. Much of this has been undercut by ASEAN’s Chair in 2022, Cambodia. Their appointed Special Envoy recently met with the junta and signaled their intention to revert back to the ‘ASEAN way’ of non-interference within the internal affairs of other ASEAN member states, and signaled a willingness to reinstate the junta’s participation within ASEAN without preconditions or adherence to the Five Point Consensus. This is despite the junta not being the legitimate representative of the people of Myanmar. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has also abdicated his role in addressing the crisis in Myanmar, hoping to shift it to the next ASEAN Chair. Cambodia’s rogue diplomacy towards Myanmar does not reflect the position of other ASEAN members – including Malaysia which has met with the NUG and stands firm on Min Aung Hlaing being excluded from ASEAN events.

Meanwhile, people on the ground are experiencing a dearth of food, shelter, water, medical care and human security as a result of the Myanmar military’s brutal terror campaign. ASEAN’s intergovernmental disaster relief organization, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), was tasked under the Five Point Consensus to address the humanitarian crisis as a result of the military’s brutal campaign of terrors against the people of Myanmar. In August 2021, the AHA Centre lobbied EU, Australia and other countries for donations, receiving millions of dollars. Yet, the AHA Centre has so far failed to implement the mission, particularly to reach the most vulnerable populations in ethnic areas and central regions who have been under extreme violent attacks by the military junta.

The AHA Centre is ill-equipped and was never designed to deal with a multi dimensional political and conflict-driven crisis – as its mandate is to assist in disasters, weather events, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and the like. Additionally, it is attempting to provide aid relief through the military junta, the perpetrators of the violent coup attempt and responsible for the genocide of the Rohingya. The AHA Centre’s former director wrote in the Jakarta Post that the junta “is unwilling to provide access to the people in line with humanitarian principles and has deprived them of their human rights, in contravention of the ASEAN Charter,” calling on ASEAN to suspend the junta as an aid partner and join forces with the UN to coordinate a humanitarian effort. While the junta has destroyed lives, the NUG has successfully applied 2.73 billion kyat to support those internally displaced and within the Civil Disobedience Movement, detailed in their humanitarian report. Learning from this, ASEAN should meet and work with the NUG and local stakeholders to distribute humanitarian aid – a call consistently made by Myanmar civil society.

Notwithstanding all of these failings, the international community is still giving credence to the Five Point Consensus, with the call for ‘swift implementation’ by the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council and through embassy and government joint statements, all falling on deaf ears. It is time for the rest of the international community to abandon the Five Point Consensus in favor of a sustainable solution to the crisis in Myanmar, a solution with consequences for the junta’s non-cooperation and one that recognizes the NUG as the legitimate representative of Myanmar, and civil society and EAOs as primary stakeholders. At the upcoming US-ASEAN Summit, the US must pressure ASEAN leaders to effectively address the Myanmar crisis, and lead the way in an international global effort to support Myanmar people’s will for a federal democracy. The international community, including ASEAN, must also support the provision of humanitarian aid through local civil society and humanitarian organizations and the NUG, who can more effectively reach those most in need of aid. Aid cannot be delivered in partnership with the junta, they have already demonstrated their capability to weaponize humanitarian aid for their own gain.

The Five Point Consensus only has legitimacy because of the international community’s continued support for it, and so they must switch tact and apply considerable pressure on ASEAN to end this crisis through international coordinated effort. This effort must be inclusive of and led by Myanmar’s people. The upcoming ASEAN’s humanitarian consultative meeting must ensure this. Such discussion to address humanitarian aid without the relevant primary stakeholders of the country concerned is not only unacceptable to the people of Myanmar but will further diminish the ASEAN’s credibility. As the UN Special Envoy to Myanmar said in a statement after a meeting with her Cambodian counterpart and Hun Sen at the end of March, “ASEAN and the broader international community have a responsibility to amplify and support the will of the people”.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Myanmar: Activists continue peaceful protests in face of the regime’s brutality – new research

By Amnesty International

Myanmar: International community must do more to protect brave protesters

By Amnesty International

Open Letter on the anniversary of the Five Point Consensus on Myanmar to ASEAN and Dialogue Partners

By ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Blue Shirt Campaign for Eighth Anniversary of the Death of U Win Tin

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

သတင်းစာဆရာကြီး ဟံသာဝတီဦးဝင်းတင် ကွယ်လွန်ခြင်း (၈) နှစ်ပြည့် အပြာရောင်လှုပ်ရှားမှု

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

Boris Johnson: Tell Modi to Stop Indian Arms Sales to Burmese Military

By Burma Campaign UK

Wear Blue and Speak Out for Burma’s Political Prisoners

By Burma Campaign UK

BROUK Urges Malaysia To Allow Independent Investigation Into Rohingya Refugee Incident

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

Myanmar: ASEAN’s Failed ‘5-Point Consensus’ a Year On

By Human Rights Watch

Finland’s Wärtsilä Corporation seeking profit from military junta

By Justice For Myanmar

Myanmar CSOs meet with UN Special Envoy, express concern on her upcoming trip to Myanmar

By Myanmar Civil Society Organizations

Concern Expressed Over Japanese Companies Continuing Business in Myanmar

By Mekong Watch, Friends of the Earth Japan, Justice For Myanmar, ayus: Network of Buddhists Volunteers on International Cooperation, Japan International Volunteer Center and Network Against Japan Arms Trade

“ပြည်ထောင်စုဝန်ကြီးချုပ်က ပြည်ထောင်စုလွှတ်တော် စတုတ္ထအကြိမ်အစည်းအဝေးသို့ တင်သွင်းသော အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရဖွဲ့စည်းခြင်းတစ်နှစ်ပြည့် အစီရင်ခံစာ”

By National Unity Government of Myanmar

Peace Corps to Close its Myanmar Post

By Peace Corps

Better living conditions for displaced people in Rakhine State

By People in Need

ASEAN’s Five-Point Failure

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar



Myanmar: Freedom in the World 2022 Country Report

By Freedom House

Karenni Human Rights Group – Quarterly Briefer

By Karenni Human Rights Group

Impact of a gender and nutrition behavioral change communication amid the COVID-19 crisis in Myanmar’s Central Dry Zone

By International Food Policy Research Institute

Agricultural value chains in a fragile state – The case of rice in Myanmar

By International Food Policy Research Institute

Monitoring the Agri-food System in Myanmar 2022 – Understanding the rapid price increase of vegetable oils

By International Food Policy Research Institute

Quarterly Mixed Migration Update Asia, Quarter 1, 2022

By Mixed Migration Centre

Local villagers forced by SAC troops to build outpost near planned coal mine in Namzarng, southern Shan State

By Shan Human Rights Foundation

ရှမ်းပြည်တောင်ပိုင်း နမ့်စန်မြို့တွင် တူးဖော်ရန်စီစဥ်နေသည့် ကျောက်မီးသွေးတွင်းအနီး၌ စစ်ကောင်စီတပ်မှ ဒေသခံ ပြည်သူများအား ကင်းတပ်စခန်းအသစ်တည်ဆောက်ပေးရန်အဓမ္မခိုင်းစေ

By Shan Human Rights Foundation

Ad Hoc and As Usual: Thai Government’s Responses to the Myanmar Crisis Since the 2021 Coup

By The University of Queensland

Myanmar Humanitarian Update No. 17 | 19 April 2022

By United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Myanmar Situation – Inter-Agency Operational Update – 13 April 2022

By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”