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Security Council Demands Immediate End to Violence in Myanmar, Urges Restraint, Release of Arbitrarily Detained Prisoners, Adopting Resolution 2669 (2022)

December 21st, 2022  •  Author:   United Nations Security Council  •  15 minute read
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The Security Council today called for the immediate end to all forms of violence in Myanmar and urged restraint, the de-escalation of tensions and the release of all prisoners.

Adopting resolution 2669 (2022) (to be issued as document S/RES/2669(2022)) by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (China, India, Russian Federation), the 15-member organ demanded an immediate end to all forms of violence throughout the country and urged restraint and the de-escalation of tensions.  It also urged the Myanmar military to immediately release all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

By its terms, the Council reiterated its call to uphold democratic institutions and processes and pursue constructive dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of Myanmar’s people.  All parties must respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, it urged while acknowledging the central role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis and encouraging the international community to support the ASEAN-led mechanism and process in this regard.  It called for concrete and immediate actions to effectively and fully implement ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus — which called for an immediate cessation of violence and constructive dialogue among all parties, among other things — and requested that the Secretary-General or his Special Envoy on Myanmar provide an oral report to the organ by 15 March 2023 on the Organization’s support to that end.

Also by the text, the Council reiterated its support for the ASEAN Special Envoy’s efforts to engage intensively with all relevant parties in Myanmar with a focus on promoting fully inclusive and representative dialogue, encouraged close cooperation with the United Nations Special Envoy and urged all parties in Myanmar to work constructively with both Envoys to commence dialogue to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of that country’s people.

In reiterating the necessity for full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, the Council underlined the need for scaled-up humanitarian assistance to all people in need in Myanmar and to ensure the full protection, safety and security of humanitarian and medical personnel.

The Council also underscored the need to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State and create the conditions necessary for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons.  It encouraged diplomatic efforts between the parties concerned to help address the issues facing the Rohingya, further stressed the importance of providing continued protection and assistance to refugees and displaced persons, and decided to remain seized of the matter.

Following the adoption of the resolution, many Council members voiced their support for ASEAN with several commending the organ for its action as others voiced their concerns over the text’s nature and content.

Through this first resolution on the situation in Myanmar, the Council has responded to the calls of ASEAN leaders for support and sent a firm message to the military, the representative of the United Kingdom commended.  It also sent a message to the people of Myanmar that it seeks progress in line with their rights, wishes and interests.

The Council must use this opportunity to seek additional ways to support the implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus and promote accountability for the regime’s actions, the United States’ speaker encouraged.  Despite being a strong next step in addressing the military regime’s egregious behaviour, the Council did not go far enough and should have directly addressed the severe violations of the freedom of religion and belief.  It could have also recognized and condemned the continued sale and transfer of arms to Myanmar, widespread sexual and gender-based violence and the importance of accountability mechanisms, his colleague from Ireland added.

The representative of the Russian Federation then spotlighted proposals which were ignored by the penholders to demonstrate the counterproductiveness of unilateral restrictive measures.  Council members must not destabilize the situation on the ground and undermine ASEAN’s mediation efforts, he cautioned before turning his attention to the text’s lack of balance.  Given the main focus on the human rights situation in Myanmar, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) would have been a better discussion forum, he suggested while noting that his country did not block the resolution.

Agreeing with his fellow Council member over the text’s imbalance, China’s speaker said it would have been more appropriate to adopt a presidential statement as he explained his country’s abstention.

The complex situation in Myanmar calls for quiet, patient diplomacy, the representative of India stressed in explanation of her country’s abstention.  Any other course will not help resolve outstanding issues and may even entrench the parties in inflexible positions.  The Council must carefully weigh its action and consider the interests of neighbouring countries most affected by instability in Myanmar, she urged.

Also speaking today were the representatives of France, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Ireland, Brazil, Albania, Mexico and Gabon.

The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 3:39 p.m.

Statements

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) pointed out that the Council resolution — the first on the situation in Myanmar — is the result of many weeks of careful consultation with that organ’s members, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other key regional partners.  In February 2021, she recalled, the military overturned the results of a democratic election, seized power and plunged that country into a series of cascading humanitarian, economic and political crises.  The coup has also had negative consequences for the region and its stability including by exacerbating the challenges facing the Rohingya.  Through its adoption, the Council has responded to the calls of ASEAN’s leaders for the Organization to support its efforts.  As the Secretary-General’s mandated briefing next March will be an important opportunity to assess developments on the ground, her Government stands ready to take further action as necessary.  Today, the Council sent a firm message to the military that it expects the full implementation of this resolution and to Myanmar’s people that it seeks progress in line with their rights, wishes and interests, she said.

NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France), welcoming the adoption of the resolution, stressed that it was essential for the Council to express its concerns and demands towards the junta in support of Myanmar’s people and in light of the situation’s continued deterioration.  The gravity of this situation requires unanimity, she said, regretting the abstentions of other members while recalling the resolution’s four main messages.  Civilians, especially women and children, must stop suffering violence by that country’s security forces.  France, she continued, denounces the serious violations committed by the junta against the civilian population who have been severely affected by repression.  On the situation of the Rohingya, she spotlighted her country’s response and support, which included voluntary contributions to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 2022.  ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus must be a central part of the conflict’s resolution, she emphasized.

ZHANG JUN (China) pointed out that it would be more appropriate for the Council to adopt a presidential statement, noting that the tone of the text lacks balance.  Therefore, China abstained, he said, stressing that there is no quick fix for the Myanmar issue and the solution to the conflict depends on Myanmar itself.  The large-scale prisoner release in November by the Myanmar authorities should be recognized and encouraged, he noted, underscoring that ASEAN has a unique advantage in dealing with Myanmar-related issues.  He thus encouraged the international community to listen to ASEAN’s views, support its leadership and allow the organization time and space to build consensus.  Recalling that the Council unanimously issued 10 outcome documents on Myanmar in 2021, he spotlighted China’s participation and consensus.  Reiterating China’s policy of friendship towards Myanmar, he expressed full support for ASEAN and the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.

TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) saying that her country voted in favour of the resolution, condemned the military coup in 2021, emphasizing that the people of Myanmar deserve sustained attention and support.  She encouraged a closer collaboration between the United Nations and ASEAN in implementing the Five-Point Consensus.  Commending the adoption of the resolution, she expressed regret that it was not possible to agree on a more substantial draft and recalled that Norway advocated for stronger language on the protection of children and education in armed conflict; combating sexual and gender-based violence; ending impunity; and preventing the flow of arms and financial assets of the military.

AMIERA ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates), welcoming today’s adoption, said that the resolution conveys an important message regarding the need to address the challenges facing the Rohingya and the crisis in Rakhine State.  This is important for the whole region, especially at a time when international interest in the Rohingya is regressing.  She noted, however, that the language of the resolution — despite the importance of the crisis — is insufficient, stating that her delegation hoped for stronger language that would address the scope of the challenges in Myanmar.  She called for further international efforts to solve the Rohingya crisis, respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation and create an enabling environment for the voluntary, safe, sustainable and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons.  For its part, the United Arab Emirates will continue assisting refugees — especially women and children — and act to reduce their suffering, including through support to Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) efforts to address the conflict.  She went on to welcome that the Council supported ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, which is the most effective way to end the crisis.  Underlining the importance of regional efforts, she called on the international community to support the same to achieve peace in the region.

ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) welcomed the adoption of the resolution, noting that it is a strong next step in the Council’s efforts to address the Myanmar military regime’s egregious behaviour.  However, it does not go far enough, he said, adding that the Council should directly address the regime’s severe violations of freedom of religion and belief and call directly for the regime to face justice for the crimes it has reportedly committed.  Moreover, the Council should not overlook the General Assembly’s resolution in support of an arms embargo and pursue a mechanism to prevent the flow of financial resources to the regime.  Those measures are critical to ending the bloodshed, he added.  Given those realities, the adoption of the resolution is an important start forward in the conversation within the Council on Myanmar, he said, noting that the Council must use this opportunity to seek additional ways to support implementation of the Five-Point Consensus and promote accountability for the regime’s actions.

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said the Council has responded to ASEAN’s call for the United Nations and other external partners to support its efforts in the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.  There should be no doubt that the international community expects the military junta to reverse its repressive policies and commence actions which show respect for the rule of law and the fundamental human rights of all of Myanmar’s people.  Not surprisingly, the persistent overruling of the will of Myanmar’s people by the military authorities since February 2021 has only worsened the plight of that country, he pointed out.  Only through dialogue can this unsustainable governance situation — which has created insecurity in the country and beyond with widespread humanitarian consequences — be resolved.  As such, State authorities should embrace the efforts of ASEAN, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and other stakeholders to bring this crisis to an end, he encouraged.

FERGAL TOMAS MYTHEN (Ireland) reiterating that the Council’s actions in response to the violence in Myanmar have been inadequate, suggested that the Council should have convened an open briefing.  Noting that Ireland voted in favour of the resolutions to combat the cycle of violence, he outlined that the Council could have recognized and condemned the continued sale and transfer of arms to Myanmar, the widespread sexual and gender violence and violations against children, and the importance of the accountability mechanisms, such as the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.  Further, it could have directly called on the military to stop its assault on the people of Myanmar.  Spotlighting that the resolution is a pivotal moment in the Council’s response, he urged it to maintain a dedicated focus on the situation.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), spotlighting the difficulty in achieving a Council reaction to ongoing developments in Myanmar, welcomed the positive engagement of all Council members that has finally allowed the organ to speak on the situation in that country.  Further, he welcomed the inclusive, transparent manner with which the United Kingdom conducted negotiations and allowed the Council to arrive at the text adopted today.  Adding that Brazil has always stressed the need for the international response to the situation in Myanmar to take its lead from ASEAN, he welcomed that the Association was involved and consulted throughout the process.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the milestone text should go a long way to support the basic aspirations of the Myanmar people denied by the brutal military coup.  “It was about time that the Council did its part,” he underscored, noting that the decision shows the Council’s ability to respond to the growing calls for support in Myanmar in finding a peaceful solution to the deep crisis in the country.  With today’s result, the Council has responded to ASEAN leaders and has made the right choice to stand with the Myanmar people.  He welcomed the focus on the plight of the Rohyinga, emphasizing that they must not be forgotten.  He commended the work of the United Kingdom as file sponsor for producing a balanced, yet important text.  He called on all relevant parties to support the full implementation of the Five-Point Consensus from ASEAN and ensure accountability for crimes committed.

LUIS GERARDO ELIZONDO BELDEN (Mexico), noting that his delegation voted in favour of the resolution, highlighted its focus on cessation of violence, respect for human rights and the need for an inclusive dialogue.  The text calls for safe and unhindered humanitarian access, he said, adding that it also underscores the need to protect the civilian population, in particular women, children and minorities.  It also stresses the need to establish the right conditions for the voluntary and dignified return to Myanmar of refugees.  However, he noted that his delegation would have preferred that the text also include references to the importance of preventing the flow of weapons.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) stressed that his country’s vote was a message of solidarity with Myanmar’s people against violence targeting that country’s civilian population and an appeal to resolve the Rohingya crisis.  It is also a message in support of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus and the humanitarian response.  Gabon, he pledged, will continue to support the search for a solution based on dialogue and encourage the preference for a regional approach with ASEAN taking on a leading role.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) saying that his country abstained from voting, noted that the situation in Myanmar does not represent a threat to international peace and security.  Pointing out that the text mainly focused on the human rights situation, he suggested that the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) would be a better discussion forum.  Expressing dissatisfaction with the work of the penholders, who did not strive to agree on a balanced text, he pointed to proposals that were ignored as an indication of the counter productiveness of unilateral restrictive matters.  While recognizing that States can have different opinions about the policies of the military Government, he stressed that Council members should not destabilize the situation on the ground and undermine ASEAN’s mediation efforts.  Urging all Myanmar political forces to show restraint, he pointed out that the Myanmar military has confirmed its commitment to the Constitutional provisions that establish the timeframe for the state of emergency, with a view towards holding parliamentary elections in 2023.  Noting that the resolution is not consensus-based, he said that the Russian Federation decided not to block it, recalling that the only topic on the Council’s agenda on Myanmar should be the situation in Rakhine State.

RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), Council President for December, spoke in her national capacity to point out that her country shares a long border with Myanmar, along with historic and cultural links with its people.  Therefore, any instability in that country directly impacts India, and resolving the current crisis is matter of national security.  The welfare of Myanmar’s people remains India’s priority, and she said that the complex situation in Myanmar calls for quiet, patient diplomacy.  Any other course will not help resolve outstanding issues and, under the current circumstances, a Council resolution may entrench the parties in inflexible positions — rather than encourage them to pursue inclusive political dialogue.  She called on all parties to immediately cease hostilities, abandon extreme positions and initiate an inclusive political dialogue to restore democracy.  On that point, she stressed that political leaders should be released and allowed to resume political activities.  Adding that it is important to carefully weigh Council action, she urged the organ to consider the interests of neighbouring countries, who will be most affected by instability in Myanmar.  In view of these concerns, her delegation abstained from the vote, she said.