UN pressure grows on Myanmar human rights conditions
- Published: Wednesday, 14 June 2017 15:22
Rene Wadlow – USA
Mae La camp for Burmese refugees, Tak, Thailand. (Photo by Mikhail Esteves)
On Friday 24 March 2017, the 47-member UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution without a vote (a consensus-type procedure) to create an international independent commission to study the human rights situation in Myanmar (Burma). The representatives of the Russian Federation and China, who do not like independent investigations anywhere, indicated that had there been a vote they would have voted against but that they would not block a consensus motion. The Ambassador of Myanmar, Hlin Lynn, indicated before the adoption that such a commission was not necessary and that his government would not cooperate. The resolution had been proposed by the members of the Council from the European Union who often have difficulty in reaching agreement among themselves. The fact of their joint action indicates that awareness of the dangerous situation in Myanmar has been growing in the past months.
The creation of an independent commission is the strongest form of pressure that the Human Rights Council has and is rarely used. The most noteworthy commission created concerned the armed conflict and resulting human rights violations in Darfur, Sudan. The government of Sudan did not let the members of the commission into Sudan, but interviews with refugees in Ethiopia and Geneva confirmed the information which representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had been providing the Commission on Human Rights, the ancestor of the Human Rights Council. As I had been the first NGO representative to raise the Darfur situation in 2004 in the Commission on the basis of information from sources that I trusted but without myself having been on the ground, it was a satisfaction to have the Darfur Commission confirm what I had been saying.