Who represents Myanmar? UN faces credentials pressure at assembly | United Nations News

Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), formed by democratically elected politicians removed from office in last year’s military coup, is calling for official recognition at the Congress. the 77th United Nations Council this month.

Dr Tun-Aung Shwe, NUG representative to Australia, told Al Jazeera: “The United Nations needs to accept the NUG delegation at every session and session and all through other agencies.

“The international community must support the Government of National Unity, the true representative body of the people of Myanmar. NUG represents the people of Myanmar. The military is not qualified to represent the people of Myanmar at the United Nations.”

NUG was founded by politicians from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) after military commander Min Aung Hlaing kicked them out of office in February 2021 and civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi jailed. As the military waged a crackdown on opponents of its rule, the NUG organized into ministries and strengthened alliances at home and abroad but UN recognition, allowing them to participate fully in organization, continues to eliminate them.

United Nations announced in December 2021 that it had delayed a decision on Myanmar’s representation, a failure that human rights advocates say has hampered an international response to the deteriorating situation in the country and risks legitimize the coup regime.

The Myanmar Accountability Project said: “There have been serious contradictions in the handling of this issue by different UN agencies, some of which allow the military to represent Myanmar, while most do not allow anyone to sit in Myanmar’s chair,” the Myanmar Accountability Project said in a statement.

“These institutional contradictions are denying the people of Myanmar a voice in UN agencies at the time when they need it most, with violent repression and armed conflict in the country every day. causing a deepening humanitarian crisis”.

Protesters raised three fingers in salute and held a picture of jailed Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar people have continued to protest against the military’s usurpation of power, calling for the restoration of democracy [File: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP]

Credentials are decided by a nine-country committee of United Nations countries, with the United States, Russia, and China as permanent members.

At the 76th United Nations General Assembly last year, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun according to NUG – who has held this position since 2018 and is target of an assassination plot in 2021 – still stay in Myanmar seat but agreed not to speak at high-level negotiations.

Meanwhile, the military is eager to replace Kyaw Moe Tun with its own choice of ambassador.

Tyler Giannini, a professor at Harvard Law School, told Al Jazeera: “The problem with the UN status quo is that there is division and inadequate recognition within the UN.

“There should be consistency in representation based on the decision of the UN General Assembly, which has to be the NUG because that will be in line with the will of the people.”

Giannini said the UN has a responsibility to resolve the deadlock.

He said: “The people of any UN Member State have the right to have their desired UN representatives, and military representatives do not represent the will of the people while the NUG will do as so.

Measures of legitimacy

Patrick Phongsathorn, a human rights expert at Fortify Rights, based in Myanmar, told Al Jazeera that UN recognition of the NUG is crucial in establishing diplomatic relations and responding to violations. ongoing human rights abuses in Myanmar.

About 2,276 people have been killed since the coup and more than 15,000 have been arrested, according to the Association to Support Political Prisoners, a civil society group that is monitoring the crackdown.

In July, generals execution of four political opponentsrevived the death penalty, which had not been used since the late 1980s, and caused outrage in many parts of the world.

Myanmar's empty and white gold-plated chair at the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting after the country was excluded from the event.
Coup leaders and their ministers have been excluded from key summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) amid frustration over their failure to carry out their plans. was agreed in April 2021 to end the violence [File: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

“If the credential committee accepts the NUG’s claim to be the legitimate government of Myanmar, it will encourage other UN member states to extend their recognition of the NUG as the official government of Myanmar.” Phongsathorn said.

“[This] would allow NUG to establish diplomatic relations with those countries [and] will have a direct impact on the building of a democracy movement in Myanmar. “

The NUG has told Al Jazeera that 10 of its 17 ministers continue to work in areas of Myanmar that are beyond the control of the military.

Other ministries are working outside the country – in Australia it has set up an official office in the nation’s capital, Canberra.

It is from these locations that NUG continues to operate and build relationships with countries in Southeast Asia and around the world.

“NUG has democratic legitimacy, which is also really important in terms of state recognition and has also demonstrated its commitment to complying with international law,” Phongsathorn said.

NUG also said that they will appear before the International Court of Justice on behalf of Myanmar over allegations of genocide against the Rohingya in 2017, a move Phongsathorn said showed the party’s commitment to international law and its willingness to participate. into the international community.

The Army is currently in action for Myanmar at ICJa reflection of confusion.

“[Another] The key factor in recognizing governments is that they control the territory they claim to represent. And the authorities cannot make that request at the moment,” Phongsathorn said.

One recent report from the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) found that due to resistance from armed ethnic groups and People’s Defense ForceA network of civilian armed groups established by the NUG in 2021, the military regime can be said to have stable control of 17% of Myanmar’s territory.

Min Aung Hlaing smiles as he shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin
As Myanmar became isolated on the world stage, the military deepened its relationship with Russia, a key supplier of weapons and military equipment. [Valery Sharifulin/Sputnik via AFP]

Legal experts say that number is too small for the generals who are considered to represent the people of Myanmar.

Chris Sidoti from SAC-M said: “The Government of National Unity and nationalist resistance organizations control more than half of the country directly or indirectly and they have a lot of influence over another 25% of the country.

“So whether you look at legal legitimacy or de facto control, the Government of National Unity has by far claimed the best to be recognized as the government of Myanmar and a partner of Myanmar to other countries. And this is what should happen.”

‘Digestive dysfunction’

A former member of the United Nations Truth-Seeking Mission in Myanmar, Sidoti also told Al Jazeera that the uncertainty about credentials is hindering a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

The United Nations Security Council, where Russia is one of five veto powers, was unable to agree on a global arms embargo against Myanmar, and Russia remains a member of the UN Security Council. weapons supplier for generals.

Sidoti described Russia’s support as “considerable” to the coup leaders as they were globally isolated.

“Only the Security Council can impose a legally binding international sanctions system regarding arms supplied to the military,” he said.

“It is an indictment by the Security Council that it has failed to fulfill its responsibilities under the UN Charter. In fact, the UN did nothing. Myanmar is yet another story of the terrible dysfunction of the United Nations system. “

Stronger UN criticism has recently been directed at Noeleen Heyzer, the Secretary-General’s special envoy for Myanmar, who was appointed last December and visited Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw last month.

She was photographed shaking hands and smiling with Min Aung Hlaing, who was the army commander at the time of the persecution of the Rohingya in 2017.

Heyzer, who said she has held “broad and regular consultations with Myanmar’s key stakeholders” focusing on the NLD, NUG and ethnic armed groups since her appointment, has since been appointed. declined a request for an interview from Al Jazeera but in a written statement clarified the nature of her visit.

The meeting with Min Aung Hlaing and other senior generals was designed to “convey the serious concerns of the United Nations and suggest concrete steps needed to immediately reduce conflict and people’s suffering.” , she said.

“My visit is part of a broader United Nations effort to urgently support a peaceful and productive political path led by Myanmar to a return to a will-based civilian rule and people’s needs, based on my duties as an objective actor. with all stakeholders in Myanmar, regionally and globally, in line with United Nations principles. “

For observers like Patrick Phongsathorn of Fortify Rights, the visit is another sign of the United Nations’ failure to Myanmar.

“It was really a misstep and very little – if anything – was achieved by her trip to Naypyidaw,” he told Al Jazeera.

“The United Nations as an organization can do much more and the Secretary-General needs to show more leadership in Myanmar.”

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