The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution on Wednesday demanding a cessation of violence in Myanmar and urging the release of political prisoners by the military regime.
The resolution, initially proposed by the United Kingdom, also called for a de-escalation of tensions in Myanmar and affirmed the United Nations’ support for a peace process implemented by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Among the UNSC’s 15 current members, there were 12 votes in favour of adopting the resolution and three abstentions. India, a non-permanent UNSC member, joined permanent members Russia and China in abstaining.
Russia and China have long resisted efforts by other UNSC members to promote democratic reform or address political conditions in Myanmar. As far back as 2007, both vetoed a draft resolution that would have supported measures for ensuring democratic freedoms and freeing political prisoners in the country.
During negotiations on the newly adopted resolution, both Russia and China opposed the inclusion of language invoking Chapter VII of the United Nations (UN) Charter, concerning acts of aggression. With this language omitted, the final resolution leaves the UN with fewer options for implementation and enforcement.
Critics decried the insufficiency of the resolution, calling for stronger action against the junta by the international community.
Khin Ohmar, chair of the pro-democracy organisation Progressive Voice, expressed strong disappointment at the UNSC’s failure to commit to more substantive measures against the Myanmar regime’s atrocities. She specifically denounced support for the ASEAN peace process as ineffectual in a statement on the organisation’s website.
“The junta has demonstrated its total disdain and non-compliance of the ASEAN’s failed Five Point Consensus,” Ohmar wrote. “Further reporting on the implementation of the Five Point Consensus will not yield any improvements for the people on the ground.”
“We call on UN member states to immediately take action to cut the supply of arms to the Myanmar military and impose targeted sanctions against the military, its businesses and business partners, including a ban on aviation fuel, which it needs for its indiscriminate airstrikes,” she added.
Ohmar’s appeals echoed recommendations made in a November 3 report by human rights advocacy organisation Amnesty International, which detailed how sanctions had failed to stop the international supply of jet fuel enabling the junta’s frequent attacks on civilians.
Former United States Congressman and United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews also emphasised the need for further action, writing in a public Twitter post that the resolution in itself would do little to stop the military’s abuses.
“Today’s resolution should not become a dead-end that is followed by more international inaction. It should be a wake-up call for all nations and people of conscience who support a people under siege. A wake-up call to action,” he wrote.
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