Wednesday, 04 Oct, 2023

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Light at the end of the tunnel: UNSC resolution 2669 on Myanmar

Sadia Aktar Korobi, Guest Writer |
Update: 2023-02-08 16:52:23
Light at the end of the tunnel: UNSC resolution 2669 on Myanmar

The people of Myanmar, tormented under the brutal crackdown by the military also named Tatmadaw, might finally have some resolve and relief as the United Nations security council has adopted resolution 2669 on 21 December that urges the military to cease all its atrocities against the civilians and release the political prisoners, including the state counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi.

This is the first time UNSC has formed a resolution on Myanmar in the last 74 years; the first one was when Myanmar joined United Nations in 1948. UN has previously kept quiet during the 60-year ethnic strife between Myanmar’s ethnic armed groups and the JUNTA that had completely massacred the minority ethnicities living across the frontier lands of Kachin, Chin, Shan state, and others so this formal recognition of the JUNTA's brutality against its people is of much significance and long overdue. South Korea, Ireland, Brazil, Albania, Norway, France, the United States, and European Union supported the resolution that also calls on the UN, ASEAN, and the international community to end the JUNTA's atrocity.

The resolution addresses three substantial concerns related to Myanmar's continued violence: halting civilian persecution, releasing all arbitrarily imprisoned detainees, and giving ASEAN the lead role in implementing its 5-point consensus plan. The resolution's measures sound appealing and urgent, but there's a disagreement that more should have been done for this horrific situation where UNSC has remained silent for nearly two years.  The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) labels the resolution "ineffective rhetoric" since it hasn't strongly condemned the JUNTA's conduct or held it accountable for the civilian population's decimation. 

The bigger issue than the missed opportunity of taking offensive measures is Russia and China's continued collaboration with Myanmar's JUNTA.  Only China and Russia among the 5 permanent members, abstained from voting for the motion. The resolution's gentler language may have been due to these countries' reluctance to hold Myanmar accountable and their history of vetoing such strong measures. China and Russia have even sold weaponry to JUNTA knowing they would be used against civilians. As long as JUNTA has friends in two of the world's biggest nations, it will be hard to hold them accountable for the suffering they have caused Myanmar's men, women, and children.

The ASEAN bloc which has been called upon in putting its 5-point plan in action to deal with Myanmar’s transition to peace is itself divided in its affiliation with Myanmar’s military regime. 

ASEAN members Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, and Thailand have been alleged to have supplied arms, funds, telecoms, oil and gas to the Myanmar military. Although ASEAN members have reprimanded the JUNTA for its acts against the civilians such as Cambodia barring Myanmar from summit, such rhetoric is surely going to fall on deaf ears if these states themselves are involved in business with Junta, supplying the very weapons that will be used to attack those civilians.

It’s apparent that the resolution is a clear message to the JUNTA but the message isn’t just quite there to create pressure on the regime to pull back its weapons from the road. Although such dissatisfaction around the resolution depicts a grim scenario, it is surely light at the end of the tunnel.

The resolution comes at a time when the USA has revised its BURMA act, which threatens the JUNTA regime on two fronts: financial and political. President Biden can adopt sanctions on JUNTA to cut off their financial support from outside, and the Biden administration can directly negotiate with all groups opposing the JUNTA, such as NUG and PDF, invalidating the military's political legitimacy. This is crucial because ASEAN bloc discussions with JUNTA commander Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing have failed repeatedly to bring about any solution. The Myanmar JUNTA even recently released high-profile prisoners in a desperate attempt to regain legitimacy from the ASEAN for the next election. Even the abstention of China and Russia might be another point loss for the JUNTA. 

The JUNTA is also failing to control the depleting economy as military conglomerate companies are taking the hit of sanctions, revenue has declined 35% compared to before the coup scenario, kyat rates are at record lows, reserves are rapidly declining, and the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force has aimed to put Myanmar on its money laundering blacklist, which may deter its businesses with countries like Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

PDF fighters have been unstoppable despite losing 1500 troops in fighting in the last two years, whereas the Myanmar army is going through a morale crisis as deflectors increase with time. According to the Special Advisory Council, a panel of former U.N. experts, PDF’s will and their ethnic allies have given the NUG 52% authority over the territory of Myanmar. 

On its own, the resolution might fall short at hand, but in the broader picture, it definitely is another win for the Myanmar people. 

Sadia Aktar Korobi, Student, Peace and Conflict Studies (MSS), Dhaka University.

BDST: 1652 HRS, FEB 08, 2023

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