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Failure of latest UN Special Envoy on Myanmar must lead to complete end of mandate

June 8th, 2023  •  Author:   Chin Human Rights Organization , Karen Peace Support Network , Progressive Voice  •  4 minute read
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For immediate release

8 June 2023

Failure of latest UN Special Envoy on Myanmar must lead to complete end of mandate

UN Secretary-General must assume leadership role to end violence and hold military junta accountable

The resignation of the UN Special Envoy on Myanmar must serve as the end of the UN’s reliance on special envoys and its history of ineffectual peace-brokering in Myanmar. The UN Secretary-General must stop evading his responsibility to the people of Myanmar and step up to show his leadership to end the illegal military junta’s terror campaign against the people.

Over the 20 months of her tenure, from October 2021 to June 2023, the UN Special Envoy on Myanmar, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, has not produced any meaningful or positive change for the people of Myanmar. This is not surprising as the Special Envoy ignored the important warnings, calls and recommendations put forward by civil society organizations. The Special Envoy’s term has thus seen a continued delay in concrete action by the UN’s leadership.

The failure of the latest Special Envoy serves as a stark reminder that the UN’s decades-long attempts at peace-brokering with the Myanmar military through multiple special envoys and “dialogues” has consistently failed to stop the military from perpetrating violence and atrocity crimes against the people. Rather, the UN’s attempts have all but lent false legitimacy to these perpetrators, undermining the united efforts of the Myanmar people to dismantle the military junta and build a federal democratic Myanmar.

The UN’s apathy and business-as-usual approach towards Myanmar must be transformed into principled, ethical and concerted efforts between UN Member States and UN entities that fully respect the human rights of Myanmar’s people. At the same time, the UN Secretary-General must stop evading his responsibility to the people of Myanmar. He must treat the crisis in Myanmar as a high priority and demonstrate effective leadership with decisive action to put an end to the military junta’s war of terror.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) must immediately end the mandate of the Special Envoy by adopting a resolution as a follow-up to its resolution on the Situation in Myanmar of June 2021.

The UNGA must also urge the UN Security Council to adopt a follow-up resolution on Myanmar that sets out measures against the junta under Chapter VII of the UN Charter for its non-compliance with the UN Security Council resolution, including a referral of the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court to hold the junta leadership to account for genocide against the Rohingya and its continuing nationwide war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Khin Ohmar, Founder and Chairperson of Progressive Voice, said: “The inadequate and thus ineffective mandate of the UN Special Envoy on Myanmar has let the military junta’s international crimes go unabated and unpunished for far too long.

“The UNGA must end the mandate of Special Envoy to prevent further harm being inflicted on the most vulnerable populations of the country already deep in devastation. We are looking to the Secretary-General for his personal commitment to take the lead in quashing the junta’s nationwide violence and holding perpetrators to account, and to support Myanmar people’s will and efforts to establish a federal democracy.”

Naw Wahku Shee, Karen Peace Support Network, said: “Myanmar civil society has long called for the UN and the Special Envoy on Myanmar to transform their approach to focus on human rights, accountability and transitional justice.

“The Special Envoy’s flagrant dismissal of civil society’s key recommendations, despite them coming from voices on the ground, was a tremendous lost opportunity for the mandate. Her proposal for a power-sharing settlement with the military junta also saw her lose the trust of the people of Myanmar.”

Salai Za Uk Ling, Chin Human Rights Organization, said: “The current UN approach to Myanmar has exacerbated destruction and immense suffering for people on the ground, with thousands of lives lost and almost two million persons displaced. The UN’s peace-brokering role has a proven track record of repeatedly allowing the military to perpetrate relentless terror campaigns against the people.

“The UN must pivot to a new policy that prioritizes shattering the military junta as the source of violence, atrocities and displacement, and as a threat to peace and security to Myanmar populations. We are looking for the UN’s genuine commitment to resolving the catastrophe in Myanmar.”

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