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UN Human Rights Council: Expedite Accountability and Support the Myanmar People’s Efforts to Establish Federal Democracy

March 15th, 2024  •  Author:   Special Advisory Council for Myanmar  •  3 minute read
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15 March 2024: The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council must respond to the gravity of the escalating crisis in Myanmar. It must urgently provide effective support for the Myanmar people’s efforts to establish federal democracy, including by holding the military accountable, says the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M).

SAC-M team members Isabel Todd and Connor Macdonald travelled to Geneva this month to meet with UN officials, diplomats and members of Myanmar’s National Unity Government during the 55th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council. The Council is due to adopt a resolution on Myanmar at the end of the Session.

More than three years ago, in response to the military’s attempted coup, the Myanmar people launched a nationwide grassroots revolution to transition the country into a federal democracy. They are strengthening local revolutionary administrations and interim governance structures across the country. But the military continues to obstruct the Myanmar people’s democratic aspirations through the commission of gross human rights atrocities that amount to the most serious crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

Independent on-the-ground verification of reports of conflict-related fatalities is extremely challenging in the current Myanmar context. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), which aggregates conflict data from open-source material, at least 50,000 people have been killed in Myanmar since the launch of the military’s attempted coup in 2021, including at least 8,000 civilians. ACLED says these figures are conservative estimates. According to the UN, there are at least 2.7 million people displaced inside the country and 18.6 million people in need of aid, due to the military’s blockades on humanitarian assistance. 

The military has escalated its use of violence against the population in recent weeks and months, signalling its determination to continue committing atrocities so long as it has the means to do so. The UN Human Rights Council has so far failed to respond in a manner proportionate to the gravity of the crisis. It has not acted to end the impunity that makes the atrocities possible, as many UN human rights mechanisms have stated.

SAC-M is calling on the members of the Human Rights Council to protect human rights in Myanmar far more effectively through the upcoming resolution. The Council should address accountability by identifying ways to utilise the extensive evidence collected by the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, including through the establishment of a special tribunal for Myanmar. It must call on UN member States to cease all transfers of arms and aviation fuel to the Myanmar military. It must demand that the Security Council impose compulsory arms and fuel embargoes and refer the entire Myanmar situation to the International Criminal Court for prosecutions.

Furthermore, the Human Rights Council should support the Myanmar people’s clearly expressed democratic will and aspirations by calling for strengthened international recognition of, and engagement with, the National Unity Government, National Unity Consultative Council, Ethnic Revolutionary Organisations and civil society, including on urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The UN has failed the people of Myanmar to date. The Human Rights Council must lead the way in remedying that failure by taking concrete steps to end the military’s human rights violations and contribute to laying the foundations for a peaceful and just future for Myanmar.

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Burmese version.