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UN Support Imperative: Strengthening Weak ASEAN Actions on Myanmar

November 14th, 2022  •  Author:   Special Advisory Council for Myanmar  •  3 minute read
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14 November 2022: The United Nations (UN) must respond decisively to a call made by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for support in implementing the stalled Five-Point Consensus (5PC) on Myanmar by adopting complementary mechanisms and ensuring no participation of military representatives throughout the UN system.

ASEAN leaders announced a decision on implementation of the 5PC on Friday 11 November 2022, following a review as part of the ASEAN Summit. The leaders of ASEAN member states identified the Myanmar military as responsible for the failure in implementing the 5PC to date, announced additional measures to advance implementation and called on the UN to support ASEAN’s efforts.

“The frustration of ASEAN leaders with Min Aung Hlaing’s intransigence is evident as his military continues to threaten the security and stability of the region with utter contempt for all efforts made to appeal to him,” said Marzuki Darusman of SAC-M. “The UN must respond to ASEAN’s calls by using enforceable mechanisms to advance accountability for Myanmar and exert all possible pressure on the junta. ASEAN cannot deal with the junta alone.”

ASEAN has still not engaged with the National Unity Government of Myanmar and the renewed actions announced by the leaders do little to move ASEAN beyond the 5PC agreed to almost two years ago. The ASEAN leaders resolved to maintain a ban on representatives of the military from participating in ASEAN Summits and Foreign Minister’s meetings, but as yet failed to extend the ban throughout the ASEAN system.

“The most decisive step ASEAN has taken to date has been to ban the junta from high-level meetings. That decision has been maintained and it must not be undermined by UN bodies or representatives,” said Yanghee Lee of SAC-M. “ASEAN has expressly denied the junta recognition and the international community must follow. Min Aung Hlaing is the leader of a brutal murderous armed force and nothing more – ASEAN has made that clear. Junta representatives must be banned from all ASEAN meetings.”

The responsibility of all parties to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all in need without discrimination was also highlighted by the ASEAN leaders in the announcement. However, the renewed actions allow representatives of the junta to remain on the governing board of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre), while junta forces are deliberately depriving entire communities in Myanmar of basic humanitarian needs as part of a long-standing military strategy of collective punishment.

“ASEAN must urgently recognise that the junta simply cannot be given any involvement in the means and methods of humanitarian assistance to Myanmar to alleviate a humanitarian crisis that the junta itself has caused and continues to deliberately exacerbate for political and military gain,” said Chris Sidoti of SAC-M. “The approach taken by UN agencies must also be reviewed accordingly. The role of the National Unity Government, Ethnic Resistance Organisations and local actors in delivering essential services to people across the country must be recognised and empowered.”

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