UN Security Council adopts first-ever Myanmar Resolution

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The United Nations Security Council has urged Myanmar’s junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi as it adopted its first-ever resolution on the situation in the turmoil-ridden Southeast Asian country on Wednesday.

The 15-member Council has been divided over Myanmar for decades and was previously only able to agree on formal statements about the country, which has been under military rule since February 2021.

77-year-old Suu Kyi has been a prisoner since the army overthrew her government almost two years ago and violently cracked down on dissent.

Wednesday’s resolution “urged” the junta to “immediately release all arbitrarily detained prisoners,” including Suu Kyi and ex-president Win Myint.

It also demanded “an immediate end to all forms of violence” and asked for “all parties to respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

The adoption marked a moment of relative Council unity in a year in which divisions have been heightened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesman said “Any opportunity for the Security Council to speak with one strong, united voice on any issue and especially on Myanmar would be much welcomed”.

The text was adopted with 12 votes in favor, while permanent members, China and Russia abstained, opting not to wield vetoes following amendments to the wording, just as India also abstained.

The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the resolution sent a “strong message” from the world that the junta “must end its violence across the country” and free prisoners.

While calling for greater efforts to restore democracy, Blinken said “While we applaud the adoption of this resolution, the Council still has much more work to do to advance a just solution to the crisis”.

Diplomats said the only existing Council resolution regarding Myanmar was the one the UN passed in 1948 approving the country’s membership to the world body.

In 2008, the Council failed to adopt a draft resolution on Myanmar after Beijing and Moscow cast vetoes.

Then in December 2018, Britain made another attempt following the Rohingya crisis that saw 700,000 people flee Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh, but a vote was never held.

UN watchers said Britain began circulating a draft text of Wednesday’s resolution in September and several amendments were made to ensure its passing.

Meanwhile, language relating to the Council’s determination to use all its powers if Myanmar fails to adhere to the resolution were reportedly dropped.