The United Nations General Assembly Third Committee on 18 November adopted a resolution on human rights in Myanmar. A total of 131 countries voted in favour of the resolution. Most of them are the democratic states of Europe, North America and the member states of OIC.
This was the fourth resolution against Myanmar adopted by the United Nations in the last three years. A close study reveals the position of most of the countries remained unchanged over time. The nine countries that voted against the resolution are Belarus, Cambodia, China, Laos, Philippines, Russia, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and Myanmar itself. The 31 countries that abstained from voting include India, Japan, and Thailand and ASEAN member states including Singapore. Among the SAARC member states, except the three Muslim majority countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Maldives), three other states abstained from voting on the resolution.
The resolution expressed concern over the breaching of human rights by the Myanmar Army and other security agencies against Rohingya, Kachin and other ethnic minority communities. It is not that the resolution contained any critical allegation against Myanmar as is being considered in several other forums. The trial of Myanmar for its alleged violation of human rights will be held at International Court of Justice (ICJ). International Criminal Court (ICC) is also conducting a separate investigation in this regard.
Once lauded but recently condemned, Aung San Suu Kyi has secured victory for the third time in the recently held Myanmar general elections. In this context, this message of the global community to her party and the government carries a significant meaning
The countries that did not support the resolution on violation of human rights of ethnic minority communities could roughly be differentiated into three categories. Firstly, those countries are accused of violating the human rights of minority communities within their borders; secondly, most of those countries are being ruled by autocrats or authoritarian rulers who are not expected to support human rights; and thirdly, either the Buddhist-majority countries are sympathetic to Myanmar from the very beginning and that is why they have voted against the resolution or considered it best to abstain from voting. But this time around we have seen an exception – South Korea voted in favour of the resolution.
This resolution of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee has no legal effectivity. But from the moral standpoint, this carries a significant message of the international community. Once lauded but recently condemned Aung San Suu Kyi, has secured victory for the third time in the recently held Myanmar general elections. In this context, this message of the global community to her party and the government carries a significant meaning.
Apparently, there is no such evidence that the diplomatic initiatives of Bangladesh among Asian countries are bringing about any positive result regarding Myanmar. This hesitation of Asian countries in condemning and opposing mass killing is truly astonishing. It needs to be analysed with due importance as to whether Bangladesh is being able to wield any influence in that sector.
The roles of two most populous and rising countries -- India and China -- could not be disregarded. But the question is, don’t we have anything to do about their bias towards Myanmar? Can we depend on their mediation when they refuse to even condemn violation of human rights and seek justice for the mass killings?
* The article, originally published in the Bangla edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten for English edition by Shameem Reza