The annually released UN resolution calling on the Burmese government to respect human rights has meant little to the local people, many of whom have lost hope for the UN to help the people of Burma:
“The UN can’t do anything… Ban Ki Moon didn’t even meet our general. He (Ban Ki Moon) is in the most powerful position in the world! Gambari came many times but nothing happened; it is useless!” (Young Arakanese man from Rangoon;, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, 2010, p. 188)
In order to address deep-seated mistrust and grievances in Burma, the perpetrators must be held accountable, and victims must be able to seek redress. The UN Security Council should declare that the situation in Burma constitutes a threat to international peace and security and initiate a formal investigation through a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate international crimes committed in Burma, and then act upon the findings and recommendations made by such a Commission. The UN Security Council has, however, repeatedly failed to move the process forward as it has done in similar situations elsewhere, such as in the former Yugoslavia and Darfur. Despite the UN being aware of the widespread and systematic nature of the violations in Burma, there has been no such action. In 2007, the UN Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution on Burma, owing to negative votes by China and Russia (United Nations Security Council Press Release, 2007).
A number of organisations and governments have called for a CoI to investigate alleged international crimes in Burma. In March 2010, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar
According to IHRC: “In light of more than fifteen years of condemnation from UN bodies for human rights abuses in Burma, the Security Council should institute a Commission of Inquiry to investigate grave crimes that have been committed in the country” (IHRC, 2012, p. 2).
Despite some positive developments that have taken place in Burma since the reforms started in 2011, Ms. Yanghee Lee, the current Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar [Burma] warned in July 2014 that “there are worrying signs of possible backtracking which if unchecked could undermine Myanmar’s efforts to become a responsible member of the international community that respects and protects human rights” (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, July, 2014).
When national authorities are the primary perpetrators of violence and abuse, the international community has often been reluctant to interfere in ‘domestic affairs’ of sovereign nations. History has shown, however, how these types of abuses can result in some of the gravest human rights violations coupled with inefficient response, as was the case in the genocides in Rwanda in 1994 and in the Balkans in 1995, as well as in the crimes against humanity in Kosovo in 1999. Universal justice should arguably ensure that no one can abuse human rights with impunity. The people of Burma deserve international protection, justice and accountability.
Updated October 28, 2014Continue to International Community Role for the Future