First UN Security Council debate on Burma to be held on Friday 16th December.
The Burma Campaign UK today welcomed the first ever debate on Burma at the Security Council, but cautioned that this is just a first step.
“This is a key milestone on the road to freedom in Burma,” said Yvette Mahon, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “The Security Council should have begun this process years ago. The regime in Burma is destroying its own country and people, and is a threat to its neighbours. This must be a first step towards passing a binding resolution requiring the restoration of democracy to Burma.”
The United States has taken the lead in pushing for Burma to be brought before the UNSC, and the British government has also thrown its weight behind the initiative. Although they had secured the support of ten Council members for Burma to be put on the formal agenda, the UNSC agreed by consensus that the briefing – followed by a debate – will be held in the form of a ‘consultation of the whole’, and be held in private enabling a more candid discussion. This format is seen as a pragmatic move to avoid antagonising China and Russia. It is significant that contrary to expectations China has agreed for the first time that the UNSC should address the situation in Burma.
Demands for UNSC intervention increased following the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2003. The campaign was given fresh momentum following publication in September of a report – A Threat to the Peace – commissioned by former archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Czech President Vaclav Havel from global law firm DLA Piper. The report found that Burma does fit the criteria for UNSC intervention, and called on the UNSC to pass a binding resolution requiring the restoration of democracy to Burma, and the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi – whose detention without trial was recently extended by six months.
“For 43 years Burma’s people have suffered under dictatorship, and for 43 years we have had rhetoric but no action from the United Nations,” said Mahon. “The regime has ignored 28 resolutions from the General Assembly and Human Rights Commission, and countless other calls from various UN bodies. At long last the crisis in Burma is getting the attention it deserves, but we need decisive action from the United Nations, not more waffle and hot air.”
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