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The Billion Dollar Death Trade: The International Arms Networks that Enable Human Rights Violations in Myanmar

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Conference room paper of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

Summary

The Myanmar military has imported at least $1 billion USD in arms, dual-use goods, equipment, and raw materials to manufacture weapons since it initiated a military coup in February 2021. In this paper, the Special Rapporteur provides the international community with details of how the military junta acquired these weapons and related materials and how it continues to acquire them despite international condemnation and the establishment of international arms embargoes and sanctions. The Special Rapporteur describes how some Member States have enabled these transfers through either outright complicity, or lax enforcement of sanctions and bans on weapons and dual-use technology to Myanmar.

The Special Rapporteur highlights jurisdictions that allow an extensive network of suppliers to operate, including those who deliver tools, machinery, equipment and raw materials that enable the production of a range of weapons used by the military to commit atrocities against the people of Myanmar.

This paper illustrates how actions by Member States to pressure the military junta, including the imposition of economic sanctions, are failing. Because sanctions are not coordinated, nor effectively enforced, for example, arms dealers and other entities linked to the military junta are able to easily circumvent them, including by using front companies or creating new ones.

The international community has important options to stop more arms from going to the Myanmar military. They include targeting the junta’s key sources of revenue, fully enforcing measures prohibiting the flow of arms to Myanmar, and establishing and enforcing comprehensive sanctions on the arms networks that are procuring weapons for the Myanmar military. Seizing these options is imperative to protecting and defending the human rights of the people of Myanmar.

The findings of this paper are summarized in an infographic available here: https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/countries/myanmar/infographic-srmyanmar-2023-05-17.pdf.


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