By Conall Corrigan / GICJ
On the 22nd of February, the United Nations published a report listing the names of a number of member states who have been involved in supplying weapons to the Myanmar military. These weapons have likely been used against civilians since 2018, and the UN suggests that they have also been used in the military coup of February 2021. The report, titled ‘Enabling Atrocities: UN Member States’ Arms Transfers to the Myanmar Military’, notes that the Myanmar military has been responsible for committing blatant human rights violations against the people of Myanmar including, but not limited to, forced displacement, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the criminalisation of freedom of expression, assembly and association.
According to the author of the report, Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, a number of UN member states have authorised the transfer of military equipment to the Myanmar military since 2018 including India, Pakistan, Belarus and Ukraine. However, since the coup, transfers of arms carried out by Serbia, Russia and China have been particularly egregious and have supplied the types of weapons that are actively contributing to the perpetuation of human rights abuses including missiles, combat helicopters and armoured personnel vehicles. In Andrews’ view, due to the Myanmar military’s history of using internationally acquired weapons to commit human rights abuses it is likely that “they knew, or should have known, that their arms would be used to target civilians” . As a result of this, it is likely that such arms transfers are being carried out in defiance of international humanitarian law and customary international law.
Although the General Assembly adopted Resolution 75/287 in June 2021, which “calls upon all Member States to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar” , the failure of the Security Council to make this resolution binding on member states has led to growing anger and frustration from the people of Myanmar towards the international community as weapons continue to be exported into the country from across the globe.
In his report, the Special Rapporteur called for the immediate suspension of the sale of weapons to the Myanmar military junta and appealed to the Security Council to convene an emergency session to debate and vote on a resolution that would ban the transfer of arms to the military in an effort to prevent the infliction of further human rights abuses on civilians. Additionally, Andrews calls for the UN to adopt a coordinated approach in targeting the revenue streams of the military junta in order to limit its capacity to import arms.
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) is concerned about the ongoing human rights abuses in Myanmar. The UN and the wider international community should prioritise the de-escalation of the ongoing violence by halting the supply of weapons to the military rather than actively contribute to the conflict that has already claimed thousands of civilian lives and forced the displacement of over 800,000 people. GICJ is convinced that in order to achieve this, it is vital for the UNSC to create a binding resolution on all member states to ban the transfer of military equipment to the military junta in Myanmar.
Myanmar, Armed Conflict, Human Rights, United Nations, Justice, Geneva, geneva4justice, GICJ, Geneva International Centre For Justice
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