UNITED NATIONS, Dec 21 (Reuters) – The UN Security Council adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years on Wednesday to demand an end to the violence and urge the military junta to release all political prisoners, including the ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar has been in crisis since the army seized power from Suu Kyi’s elected government on February 1, 2021, detaining her and other officials and responding to pro-democracy protests and dissent with deadly force.
“Today we have sent a strong message to the military that they should have no doubts: we look forward to the full implementation of this resolution,” British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said after a vote on the British-drafted resolution. .
“We also send a clear message to the people of Myanmar that we seek progress in accordance with their rights, their wishes and their interests,” Woodward told the 15-member council.
It has long been divided on how to deal with the Myanmar crisis, with China and Russia arguing against strong action. Both abstained in Wednesday’s vote, along with India. The remaining 12 members voted in favor.
“China still has concerns,” China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun told the council after the vote. “There is no quick fix to the problem…Whether it can ultimately be resolved properly or not depends primarily, and only, on Myanmar itself.”
He said that China had wanted the Security Council to adopt a formal statement on Myanmar, not a resolution.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said that Moscow did not see the situation in Myanmar as a threat to international peace and security and therefore believed that it should not be dealt with by the UN Security Council. .
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the adoption of the resolution. “This is an important step by the Security Council to address the crisis and end the Myanmar military regime’s increasing repression and violence against civilians,” he said in a statement.
Until now, the council had only agreed to formal statements on Myanmar, where the military also led a 2017 crackdown on Rohingya Muslims that the United States described as genocide. Myanmar denies genocide and said it was waging a legitimate campaign against insurgents who attacked police posts.
Negotiations on the draft Security Council resolution began in September. The initial text, seen by Reuters, urged an end to arms transfers to Myanmar and threatened sanctions, but that language has since been removed.
The adopted resolution expresses “deep concern” about the continued state of emergency imposed by the military when they seized power and its “grave impact” on the people of Myanmar.
Urges “concrete and immediate actions” to implement a peace plan agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and calls to “defend democratic institutions and processes and seek constructive dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people.
The only other resolution adopted by the Security Council was in 1948, when the body recommended to the UN General Assembly that it admit Myanmar – then Burma – as a member of the world body.
Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN, Kyaw Moe Tun, who still holds the UN seat and represents Suu Kyi’s government, said that while there were positive elements in the resolution, the Government of National Unity, made up of the remnants of the ousted administration, would have preferred a stronger text.
“We are clear that this is only a first step,” he told reporters. “The Government of National Unity calls on the United Nations Security Council (to build) on this resolution to take more and stronger measures to ensure the end of the military junta and its crimes.”
Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Kanishka Singh; Edited by Alex Richardson and Grant McCool
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