United in Inaction

April 12th, 2024  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  8 minute read
Featured image

What the Myanmar people need from the international community are not efforts to find a political solution. They have the political solution: the dismantling of the Myanmar military, and the establishment of an inclusive federal democracy.

Myanmar’s ongoing people’s revolution, largely forgotten and globally ignored, was given a rare moment in the spotlight last week as the UN Security Council (UNSC) held an open briefing on the crises brought about by the Myanmar military since over three years ago. However, despite various Member States’ expressions of concern, no concrete actionable steps emerged, and yet again the Myanmar people are left alone to fight to finally rid the country of the military tyranny.

At the UNSC open briefing on 4 April, members of the UNSC and UN bodies expressed concern about some of the key issues facing Myanmar today, including the junta’s use of forced conscription. The rise of human trafficking and transnational crime, impacting the stability of the region, as well as the intensifying humanitarian crisis were also raised. Bangladesh, France, Malta, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom stressed the need for justice and accountability, while Ecuador iterated its support for the ongoing UN-mandated investigation into the military’s international crimes. The UK and the United States also rightly brought attention to the increase in airstrikes—a reflection and reaction of the junta losing ground on the battlefield. Malta and the US called for the UNSC to take action to stop the supply of aviation fuel from reaching the junta.

On the same day, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) passed a resolution that called on UN Member States to refrain from the “export, sale or transfer of jet fuel, surveillance goods and technologies and less-lethal weapons” to Myanmar. The HRC resolution also called for greater efforts for accountability, requesting the High Commissioner for Human Rights to “[maintain] focus on accountability” and include in his report “pathways to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Myanmar for human rights protection, accountability, democracy and a civilian government.”

However, despite the UNSC briefing’s and the HRC resolution’s calling attention to key issues in Myanmar, the solutions, or lack thereof, reflect the lack of political will from the international community. The main two takeaways from the open briefing are tried, tested, and failed responses: the appointment of a new UN Special Envoy, and the international community’s deferral to ASEAN to address Myanmar’s crisis.

Coming just one day after the UNSC briefing, the appointment of former Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, as the new UN Special Envoy to Myanmar does not bode well for Myanmar. In her previous position as Australia’s Foreign Minister, she maintained that Australia would continue its training program for the Myanmar military even after it had committed genocide against the Rohingya in 2017. Moreover, not one UN Special Envoy in the decades of the position’s existence has produced a tangible difference to the people of Myanmar and their struggle for democracy. Successive Myanmar military juntas and regimes have played games with the mandate holder, deflecting attention and neutralizing negative focus on its atrocities. In the current context, if the new Special Envoy’s goal is to facilitate a “dialogue” with a rapidly losing junta, this will be a betrayal to the people’s democratic resistance movement, and only give the junta breathing room to further its war of terror against Myanmar’s people.

Secondly, UNSC members’ deferring to ASEAN and its moribund Five-Point Consensus (5PC) is both lazy and an abdication of responsibility. It is clear, even to ASEAN members, that the 5PC has utterly failed. What should also be noted is that the UNSC briefing did not include the participation of Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN. As Khin Ohmar, Chairperson of Progressive Voice, outlined in a statement, “The failure to include Myanmar people’s voices, represented by their Ambassador, at the table—in a discussion that concerns them as a matter of life and death—is an abject failure of the UNSC to address the crisis in accordance with its gravity, and demonstrates the UNSC’s disrespect for the Myanmar people’s steadfast democratic resistance movement.”

What the Myanmar people need from the international community are not efforts to find a political solution. They have the political solution: the dismantling of the Myanmar military, and the establishment of an inclusive federal democracy. Rather, what Myanmar’s people would welcome is practical help to further weaken the military junta; it is vital that concrete actions are taken to debilitate the junta materially and politically. In particular, Myanmar’s people have repeatedly called for a UNSC binding resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which includes a comprehensive global arms embargo and a complete ban on aviation fuel, targeted economic sanctions, and a referral of Myanmar’s situation to the International Criminal Court or the establishment of a criminal prosecutorial body on Myanmar. These will not only weaken the junta, but massively impair its ability to inflict atrocity crimes against the people of Myanmar. Lastly, urgent humanitarian assistance must be provided to the most vulnerable populations fleeing from the junta’s atrocities through local frontline humanitarians.

The people of Myanmar have largely been left alone in their fight without any effective intervention by the international community. Yet the material disparity between the people’s democratic resistance movement and the Myanmar military, coupled with the brutality of the latter, is taking more innocent lives. Meanwhile, countries like China and Russia are aiding and abetting the military junta’s international crimes by continuing to sell it arms and munitions. Measures to balance this disparity should be undertaken by the international community to align with the Myanmar people and their aspirations, while simultaneously refraining from pushing top-down, political “solutions” or “interventions” which involve dialogue and compromise with the junta.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Request to Support Democratic Representation of Myanmar People at Upcoming ASEAN Meetings Involving New Zealand

By 438 Organizations

World Leaders Must Speak Out for Rohingya in Arakan

By Burma Human Rights Network

Genocide Against Rohingya Is Intensifying, Warns Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

By Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

Myanmar Representation at the upcoming ASEAN Finance and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting and Associated Meetings in Laos

By Defend Myanmar Democracy, Blood Money Campaign, and Global Myanmar Spring Revolution

U.N. Security Council: Refer Mass Internment of Muslims and Other Atrocities in Myanmar to ICC

By Fortify Rights

Statement on International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

By Karen Human Rights Group

Second People’s Assembly Report to the People

By National Unity Consultative Council

Statement Of Youth, Local Farmers, and Residents of Tangyan Township on Conscription Law

By Shan State Farmers Network

Myanmar: Open Briefing

By Security Council Report

Member States Must Follow-Up Strengthened UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Myanmar With Concrete Action

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Three-fold increase in civilian casualties caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance in Myanmar’s escalating conflict


Press Release: On The United Nations Security Council’s Briefing On the Situation in Myanmar

By Women’s Peace Network



Monthly Overview: Human Rights Situation in Mon State, Karen State & Tanintharyi Region

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Latest Update from the Karenni Coordination Team for Emergency Relief Since the Coup

By Karenni Human Rights Group

ရှမ်းပြည်နယ်တောင်ပိုင်းတိုက်ပွဲအခြေအနေ‌နှင့် ဖြစ်စဉ်များ

By Pa-O Youth Organization

Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (26 March – 1 April 2024)

By UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”