The UN General Assembly has stopped calling for a global arms embargo against the Myanmar army, although it has taken the rare step of urging member states to “prevent the flow of arms” towards the country devastated by violence after the February 1 coup.
The resolution condemning the coup also demands that the military “immediately stop all violence against peaceful protesters.”
It was approved on Friday by 119 countries, with 36 abstentions, including China, Myanmar’s main ally. Only one country, Belarus, voted against it. It was sponsored by 50 countries.
“We must uphold the protection of all fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful assembly, which have been repeatedly violated by the military in Myanmar,” said Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th United Nations General Assembly, Turkey. a statement.
At the meeting, UN Special Envoy to Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener also warned the 193-member body that “the risk of a large-scale civil war is real” in the country.
“Time is of the essence. The opportunity to reverse military acquisition is dwindling, “Schraner Burgener said after the General Assembly adopted the non-binding resolution.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees are currently fleeing the violence in the country after clashes between military and ethnic groups.
The vote took place on the same day the Security Council held informal talks on the situation in the Southeast Asian nation, where the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
The resolution was not passed by consensus, as expected, but rather by a vote, which forced all 193 UN countries to disclose their views.
In a peculiarity of the story, Myanmar’s envoy to the world body, Kyaw Moe Tun, voted in favor of the text. He passionately rejected the coup and set aside the military’s claims that Myanmar no longer represents him. The United Nations still considers him the legitimate envoy.
After the vote, the diplomat expressed his regret at having taken three months in the Assembly to adopt the resolution and not be more explicit about an arms embargo.
“The military continues to operate in its own twisted reality,” ignoring calls to stop the violence, ”he said.
“People inside and outside the country are determined to stop illegal military government and restore democracy.”
Among the countries that abstained were Russia, Mali, where a second military coup recently took place in less than a year, Iran, Egypt, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.
The United Nations General Assembly seldom adopts resolutions to condemn military coups or call for limits on weapons supplied to the target country.
“It is the broadest and most universal condemnation of the situation in Myanmar to date,” said Olof Skoog, the European Union’s ambassador to the UN.
“The EU is proud of the resolution just adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It sends a strong and powerful message. It delegitimizes the military junta, condemns its abuses and violence against its own people and demonstrates its isolation in the eyes of the world, ”he said.
The resolution also calls for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar and the release of all detained civilian leaders.
“We must absolutely create the conditions for democracy to be restored,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said before the vote on the resolution, expecting a “very clear message” from the General Assembly.
“Do the obvious”
It is requested the implementation of a five-point plan drafted by ASEAN in April including the appointment of a blog envoy.
The text also calls on the military to allow the UN representative, Burgener, to visit the country and pass humanitarian aid safely.
Burgener informed the Security Council on Friday during the closed-door meeting in Myanmar. No joint statement was adopted at the meeting due to persistent divisions among its members, diplomats told AFP.
We must raise our voices for those who have been silenced. We must uphold the protection of all fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful assembly, which the military has repeatedly violated. #Myanmar. pic.twitter.com/vbpSbjNo9A
– UN GA President (@UN_PGA) June 18, 2021
The Assembly resolution “calls on UN member states to do the obvious: stop supplying weapons to Myanmar,” Human Rights Watch said.
“Months of atrocities and serious human rights abuses by the Junta’s security forces have shown time and time again why no government should send them any bullets. Now the UN Security Council should step up and adopt its own resolution to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar, ”said Louis Charbonneau, HRW’s UN director.
The resolution is an opportunity “to show that the world is on the side of the people of Myanmar and not the military” who “committed horrific acts of violence against ordinary civilians,” British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said.
More than 860 civilians have been killed in Myanmar since the coup, according to the UN and the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP).
On Friday, two people were killed when a military truck exploded in one of two explosions near an office of an army-backed political party in the country’s largest city, Yangon. Local media reported, and a senior rescue official said six other people were injured.
A huge fire was also reported in Monywa, the largest city in the Sagaing region, although the cause of the incident was not immediately determined.
# Juny18Coup Monywa, Sagaing
The fire broke out at the Ahlone Battalion Market, near the Northwest Military Headquarters, around 9:30 p.m., during curfew hours and STILL burning.#WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/Esn52AP1OH
– Shafiur Rahman (fishafiur) June 18, 2021