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Briefing Paper: Effective Control in Myanmar

September 5th, 2022  •  Author:   Special Advisory Council for Myanmar  •  3 minute read
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5 September 2022: The National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG) has the greatest claim to effective control in Myanmar, the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) explains in a new briefing paper, published today. The illegal military junta in Myanmar does not have effective control of the country and cannot continue to be engaged with by the international community on the assumption that it does.

“The world needs to wake up to the reality that a new Myanmar is already taking shape,” said Yanghee Lee of SAC-M. “The National Unity Government is not a shadow government or a government in exile. It is the representative of the people’s revolution and resistance to the military junta, the combined forces of which control the majority of the country.”

The briefing paper “Effective Control in Myanmar” applies international standards to the NUG and allied resistance organisations as well as the military junta to determine which entity best meets criteria used to establish effective control of a state.

SAC-M’s analysis finds that the NUG and resistance organisations have effective control over 52% of the territory of Myanmar. The junta is being actively contested in a further 23% and can only claim to have stable control over 17% of the territory. The trajectory of the conflict favours the resistance, and the junta is losing what control it does have at an increasing rate despite the continued use of mass atrocities by junta forces.

“The resistance is holding Myanmar together in the face of the junta’s barbaric killing and wanton destruction. It is paramount that ASEAN, lest it be relegated to total irrelevance, and other regional actors understand and recognise this if they genuinely want to facilitate a return to peace and stability in the region,” said Marzuki Darusman of SAC-M. “A process could now be undertaken through which the gains made by the democracy movement in Myanmar can be formalised, such as a people’s election or referendum held in resistance territory.”

The junta has forced Myanmar’s former central administration to the brink of collapse. The junta is unable to govern and is reduced to an occupying military force in a diminishing amount of territory.

Resistance organisations including the NUG, Ethnic Resistance Organisations (EROs), people’s administrative bodies, the Civil Disobedience Movement and other civil institutions and movements are administering an increasing range of government functions and delivering services to millions of people. The combined capacity of the resistance is an essential lifeline as the acute humanitarian crisis in Myanmar worsens and the international community continues to fail to deliver aid at scale.

“The NUG is the legitimate government of Myanmar and should have been recognised formally as such long ago. But instead, there is a complete mess in the international system when it comes to Myanmar’s representation. That is depriving the Myanmar people of their voice at a time when they need it the most,” said Chris Sidoti of SAC-M. “The revolution in Myanmar will succeed. But history will not look back kindly on how we in the international system failed to stand with the people.”

Armed resistance to the junta has now saturated wide swathes of townships across most states and regions in Myanmar, demonstrating the strength of the population’s rejection of the military playing any further role in the nation’s politics. The NUG is guided by the Federal Democracy Charter, a roadmap that seeks to realise Myanmar’s long-held federal and democratic aspirations.

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