The United Nations Security Council, excluding China and Russia due to their veto power, has strongly condemned the ongoing “unrelenting violence” that has engulfed Myanmar.
Following a private briefing on the crisis, the council’s 13 members called upon the military leaders who orchestrated the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021 to halt the violence and cease the killing of innocent civilians. Expressing dissatisfaction with the progress made on implementing a key Security Council resolution from December, the council members stood united in their concern for Myanmar’s people.
James Kariuki, the deputy UN ambassador from the United Kingdom, delivered the statement at the UN headquarters in New York, underlining the gravity of the situation. Diplomats from the other twelve nations that endorsed the statement joined Kariuki in expressing their shared worry, particularly highlighting the use of air strikes.
The council received updates from relief chief Martin Griffiths, who recently visited Myanmar, and Assistant Secretary General Khaled Khiari, who informed the council about efforts to resolve the crisis stemming from the coup.
The coup, which led to the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and the legitimately elected government, has escalated into a conflict some describe as a civil war. Despite international condemnation, the Myanmar military has strengthened its ties with Russia and employed air power to suppress the rebellion, disregarding a plan agreed upon with fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) shortly after seizing power.
Kariuki disclosed that over 18 million people in Myanmar were in dire need of humanitarian aid due to the crisis, with two million individuals forcibly displaced from their homes. Additionally, he stated that 15 million people were grappling with food insecurity. The call for unfettered humanitarian access to those in need echoed a plea made by Griffiths following his visit.
During the council meeting, the discussion also centered on a recent report by independent UN investigators, revealing that Myanmar’s military and its affiliated militias were increasingly committing blatant war crimes.
The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, established by the Human Rights Council in 2018, found compelling evidence of indiscriminate bombings, mass executions of detainees, and widespread burning of civilian residences.
“While Kariuki refrained from commenting on potential further actions by the Security Council, US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, asserted that due to the military’s unyielding stance and continuous human rights violations, the council must take action beyond the resolution adopted in December”.
“In that resolution, China, Russia, and India abstained. Myanmar’s UN-accredited ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, appointed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, urged the council to pass a resolution banning the supply of weapons, jet fuel, and financial support to the military”.
“In a move to intensify pressure, the US Treasury Department announced an extension of sanctions on Myanmar, now encompassing foreign entities or individuals aiding the military in procuring jet fuel. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller explained that this expansion aims to further support the people of Myanmar by restricting resources available to the oppressive military regime. This move received applause from campaigners, who see it as an effective means of addressing the ongoing crisis”.
“In conjunction with these sanctions, the Treasury added two individuals, Khin Phyu Win and Zaw Min Tun, along with three associated companies involved in jet fuel procurement and distribution for the military to its sanctions list”.