December 23, 2022
We, Women’s Peace Network, welcome the United Nations (UN) Security Council’s recent adoption of a resolution on Myanmar, or resolution 2669 (2022). As was urged in our previous letters to the Council following the February 1, 2021 attempted coup, this resolution highlights our calls for the immediate release of the over 13,000 political prisoners; respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; upholding of democratic institutions; need for safe and unhindered humanitarian access; and immediate end to all forms of violence in the country. We also appreciate the Council’s acknowledgement of the dire situation of Rohingya, who include the over 600,000 in Myanmar and over one million seeking refuge across seas and lands. Resolution 2669 (2022) clearly underscores Rohingya’s collective need for immediate and sustained international efforts to ensure them protection and assistance, as well as a voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return to their homes in Arakan, Myanmar.
While we recognize the efforts of the United Kingdom and other Member States who contributed to the resolution’s drafting process, we remain deeply concerned that the Council continues to fall short of upholding its mandate, as well as the Responsibility to Protect and Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agendas, in effectively addressing the exacerbating human rights and humanitarian catastrophe in Myanmar. Resolution 2669 (2022) demonstrates this shortcoming by not including measures against the party who is solely responsible for this catastrophe: the Burmese military. Over decades, the atrocities that have been committed by this party have evidently posed an extreme threat to international peace and stability. These atrocities have been described by key United Nations entities, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, as amounting to crimes against humanity, war crimes, and – against Rohingya – genocide. It is thus regrettable that the Council did not take advantage of this historic moment to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar, as well as targeted economic sanctions and financial penalties against the Burmese military and its related businesses.
Most importantly, resolution 2669 (2022) could have included measures to bring justice and accountability to all the people in Myanmar, especially Rohingya and other ethnic and religious minorities, and marginalized and vulnerable communities. These measures should involve a referral of the situation of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or the establishment of a special or ad-hoc tribunal to prosecute the Burmese military for its serious violations of international law. In line with the Council’s WPS Agenda, these measures should also include accountability mechanisms to specifically address the military’s widespread and intensifying use of sexual and gender-based violence. By implementing such measures in this resolution, the Council could have encouraged the international community to collectively acknowledge the central role of justice and accountability in achieving peace, stability, and security in Myanmar – and across the world.
In this vein, the Council must recognize that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) cannot be relied on to pursue the aforementioned measures, even those included in resolution 2669 (2022). We emphasize that the ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus has been effectively nullified by the Myanmar junta’s repeated violations of its provisions since its issuance; and that ASEAN, as an institution, still remains committed to this failed initiative despite the commendable efforts of Malaysia, Indonesia, and other countries. The Council, as well as the wider international community, should not entrust ASEAN with the momentous task of bringing peace and security to Myanmar when the institution itself is failing to review, reassess, and revise its approach. For lasting peace and stability in the region, we thus hope that the resolution’s reporting requirements regarding ASEAN and its Five-Point Consensus will bring about more practical actions on the country.
Nearly two years since the attempted coup, and over five years since the attacks of genocide against Rohingya, the UN Security Council should be commended for finally beginning to address the situation in Myanmar. However, the Council must realize that unless the Burmese military is held accountable and justice is served to all its victims and survivors, peace, stability, and security cannot be achieved across the country and beyond. We urge the international community to support all the people in Myanmar and act for their resolute calls for justice, peace, and freedom.