US Softens Burma Resolution Ahead of Council Vote
covering burma and southeast asia
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Burma

US Softens Burma Resolution Ahead of Council Vote


By Edith M Lederer/Associated Press/United Nations Friday, January 12, 2007


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The US softened a UN resolution urging the Burmese military government to release all political prisoners and take speedy steps toward democracy ahead of an expected Security Council vote o­n Friday.

Washington faces an uphill struggle to win council approval of the draft because of opposition from China and Russia, both veto-wielding council members. The council decided to put Burma o­n its agenda o­n September 15 over objections from Beijing and Moscow.

China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya and Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin both contend that the Security Council is not the proper place to discuss Burma because the country does not pose a threat to international peace and security.

A revised text circulated by the US late Thursday dropped a statement in its initial draft that would have the Security Council express "its gravest concern that the overall situation in Myanmar [Burma] has deteriorated and poses serious risks to peace and security in the region."

The new draft substitutes a statement that would have the council underline "the need for tangible progress in the overall situation in Myanmar in order to minimize the risks to peace and security in the region."

Whether that change would keep China or Russia from using its veto remains to be seen.

The Security Council scheduled consultations o­n the resolution Friday afternoon ahead of a formal meeting where the draft is expected to be put to a vote. In order to be adopted, the resolution needs the support of nine of the 15 council members and no veto.

China's deputy UN ambassador, Liu Zhenmin, said Tuesday: "We don't think that any action taken by this council will be conducive to promote any solution of the Myanmar issue."

Indonesia and South Africa—both new council members elected to two-year terms—voiced similar objections.

The new US draft, which can be voted o­n but can also be revised, shifts the focus to strongly supporting the "good offices" mission of the UN secretary-general in Burma.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari to Burma in May and November to talk to government leaders, who allowed him to meet pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

During his visit, Gambari appealed to the government to release all political prisoners, open its political process to all political parties, stop hostilities against ethnic minorities and allow unhindered humanitarian access.

Burma’s ruling junta took power in 1988 after crushing the democracy movement led by Suu Kyi. In 1990, it refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide election victory. Since then, Suu Kyi has been in and out of detention, kept in near-solitary confinement at her home.

The latest draft calls o­n the government "to take concrete steps to allow full freedom of expression, association, and movement by unconditionally releasing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, lifting all constraints o­n all political leaders and citizens, and allowing the National League for Democracy and other political parties to operate freely."

A National Convention, which suspended work in late December, is drafting guidelines for a new constitution, the first of seven steps outlined in a "roadmap to democracy" which the junta says will culminate in free elections. But no timetable has been announced for completion of the process, and the UN does not view it as "all-inclusive" because Suu Kyi's party is not included.

The new draft expresses "deep concern at the slow pace of tangible progress in the process towards national reconciliation." It calls o­n the government "to begin without delay a substantive political dialogue, which would lead to a genuine democratic transition, to include all political stakeholders, including representatives of ethnic nationality groups and political leaders."

The latest draft also calls o­n the government "to cease military attacks against civilians in ethnic minority regions" and to end human rights violations against ethnic minorities "including widespread rape and other forms of sexual violence carried out by members of the armed forces."

It urged the government to allow humanitarian organizations to operate without restrictions and to cooperate with the International Labour Organization and its representatives in the eradication of forced labor.

In a positive addition, the new draft welcomes the government's fund to tackle the problems of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and its progress in reducing opium production.

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