Diplomatic Negotiations Prevent Myanmar Military Junta as UN Representation

09/24/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – According to a report from Foreign Policy, the United States and China brokered an agreement to prevent representatives from Myanmar’s military-led government from speaking at this week’s session of the United Nations General Assembly. This decision was a compromise between the two countries to allow both representatives from the former democratically elected government to remain present alongside delegates from Myanmar’s military.   

Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, seized control of the government in a February coup d’état, deposing the country’s elected civilian leaders. The months since have been marked by widespread civil disobedience and popular uprisings around the country, met by a brutal military crackdown against pockets of civilian resistance. To date, the Tatmadaw has killed more than 1,000 civilians since the coup and imprisoned over 7,000 more. Of this latter number, nearly 6,000 are still being detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Although the Tatmadaw arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, during the coup, many members of her deposed government escaped and have re-grouped under the National Unity Government (NUG) banner where they are currently working to create a pro-democracy movement powerful enough to sweep the Tatmadaw from power and restore the country to democracy.   

In an effort to bolster international recognition of their rule, the Tatmadaw sent a military junta to the United Nations to represent Myanmar. The agreement between the U.S., a backer of the NUG, and China, one of the Tatmadaw’s only major allies, thus successfully impedes the Tatmadaw’s attempt to take Myanmar’s representative seat at the United Nations and results in maintaining the former Myanmar Ambassador to the UN Kyaw Moe Tun, at least until “UNGA’s Credentials Committee defers its decision on Myanmar’s UN representation until the end of the General Assembly session in November,” reports the Diplomat. For this accord to be upheld, Kyaw Moe Tun must refrain from voicing any denouncing rhetoric towards Myanmar’s military junta.   

The international community has been united in its condemnation of the Tatmadaw. Its efforts to prevent the military junta from gaining a presence on the world stage goes a long way to show its dedication and contribution in striving to restore democracy to Myanmar. According to Foreign Policy’s report, “Some in Washington see the effort to keep the junta away from the UN gathering as a key step to denying it further international legitimacy.” Several rounds of sanctions, coordinated by governments around the world, may have made some difference.   

Still, the Tatmadaw has already been heavily sanctioned for years for human rights abuses stretching back decades. Earlier this year, it even mocked the new layers of sanctions, calling them ineffective and suggesting that the new sanctions were more symbolic than effective. In this, the Tatmadaw may have been correct, especially given the continued economic and military support it continues to receive from Russia and China.   

“Myanmar’s National Unity Government deserves recognition and support from the international community,” said Jay Church, ICC’s Advocacy Manager for Southeast Asia. “The US and its allies should refuse to deal with representatives of the Tatmadaw; it is not a legitimate government and does not represent the people of Myanmar. It should be rejected as it attempts to exert itself on the international stage.”