Myanmar: UN resolution ups pressure on military and business partners

Responding to the adoption of a resolution on Myanmar by consensus at the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International’s Representative to the UN in Geneva, Hilary Power,said: 

“Speaking with one voice today, the UN Human Rights Council has sent a clear and unequivocal message to the Myanmar military that they must halt their violations, and to businesses with ties to military-owned companies in Myanmar that they must end those partnerships immediately.

As the military further escalates its all-out assault, the people of Myanmar cannot wait another day for justice

Hilary Power, Amnesty Representative to the UN in Geneva

“UN member states have tasked the UN human rights office to investigate the economic interests and business ties of the Myanmar military, and report back to the Human Rights Council with a comprehensive report and recommendations. 

“Now it remains for the UN Security Council to move beyond statements of concern, and take the long-overdue action needed to halt violations and hold perpetrators to account. 

“We urge all members of the Security Council to set aside politics and stand with the people of Myanmar – and not the generals ordering daily killing sprees against peaceful protesters, bystanders and political opponents.

“The Security Council must urgently refer the situation to the International Criminal Court and impose, without further delay, a comprehensive global arms embargo and targeted financial sanctions on senior military officials responsible for atrocity crimes.

“As the military further escalates its all-out assault, the people of Myanmar cannot wait another day for justice.” 

Background

On 24 March, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar by consensus.

In September 2019, the former Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Myanmar presented a detailed report to the UN Human Rights Council on the economic interests of the Myanmar military, in which they identified businesses with commercial ties to the military-owned Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEHL and MEC). 

The resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council today recalls the recommendation made by the FFM that no company active in Myanmar or with business links to Myanmar should do business with the Tatmadaw or one of their business entities, until and unless those businesses are restructured and transformed.

The resolution also mandates the UN human rights office to follow up on the findings and recommendations of the FFM’s 2019 report on the economic interests of the military, and to report back to the Human Rights Council on a regular basis and to deliver a comprehensive written report in September 2022. 

The resolution renews the important mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, and puts in place more comprehensive and regular monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation on the ground, by the Special Rapporteur and the UN human rights office. Both actors have been asked to keep the Human Rights Council and “other United Nations bodies,” including the Security Council, updated.

Amnesty International’s Military Ltd.report, published in September 2020, demonstrates how a number of the international and local companies identified in the FFM’s report have been linked to the financing of Myanmar’s military units implicated in crimes under international law. Since then, the Myanmar military (individual members and units of which are shareholders of MEHL) has been involved in the commission of serious human rights violations and crimes under international law following the military coup of 1 February 2021.  

Many of the companies that Amnesty International and the FFM urged to end business ties with MEHL have not yet done so, including South Korean steelmaker POSCO and Chinese Wanbao Mining, which continue to operate in Myanmar in partnership with the military.

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