Photo Source: © STR/AFP via Getty Images
Photo Source: © STR/AFP via Getty Images

Comments on Myanmar to UN Correspondents Association

5 May 2021

Statement delivered by Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, at a Press Conference with the UN Correspondents Association.

Good morning everyone and thank you all for coming.

Let’s be very clear, not one more bullet, bayonet or bomb should be sold to Myanmar’s military junta. A global arms embargo is the very least the UN Security Council can and should do.

We’ve joined this joint statement with over 200 other NGOs from Myanmar and from around the world because we are all heartbroken over what is happening inside Myanmar. The military coup has already killed over 760 people. Over 3,700 people are in detention, with many subjected to torture. We believe these widespread and systematic human rights violations and abuses constitute crimes against humanity under international law.

This violence is one-sided and targeted against a civilian population who – despite the atrocities that have taken place – refuse to accept that their votes don’t count. Or that their voices don’t matter. Or that the universal human rights that the members of the UN Security Council proudly proclaim to uphold, don’t apply to them.

For three months we have all watched as ordinary people from the biggest cities to the smallest villages have come out – day after day, night after night – facing soldiers who are armed to the teeth with the latest high-powered weapons, from sniper rifles to assault vehicles. Those brave protesters have consistently demanded that the world listen to their pleas for help. And we have all seen the protesters’ homemade placards, banners and signs calling on the international community to uphold its responsibility to protect (or R2P) and hold the Generals accountable for their crimes. We’ve seen those pleas written in massive candlelight letters outside Buddhist pagodas and we’ve heard the chants at countless protest rallies.

In response, the UN Security Council has met a number of times and issued four press statements. But statements of concern cannot and will not end this crisis.

Words alone will not be enough to end this coup by the “Murderer-in-Chief” Min Aung Hlaing. The fact that the UN Security Council allowed this man to commit genocide in 2017 against the Rohingya population and did not adopt a single resolution in response is a major contributing factor to the climate of impunity that led to the coup.

That’s why we believe a global arms embargo is the very least the UN Security Council can and should do. And if its own dysfunction, deadlock and divisions don’t allow the UN Security Council to move beyond lowest-common-denominator diplomacy and respond to this catastrophic crisis in Myanmar, then the Council should relinquish its purview over this issue and allow the UN General Assembly to take it up under the “Uniting for Peace” mechanism.

As our joint statement says, “the time for statements has passed… Myanmar’s people cannot afford to wait any longer for the Security Council to take action.” Now is the time to act.

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect


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Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
The Graduate Center, CUNY
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New York, NY 10016-4309, USA

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