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Myanmar Diplomat Cites Keys to Passage of Security Council Resolution  

FILE - Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations, speaks with VOA's Ingyin Naing at the Office of the Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations in New York, Dec. 9, 2022.
FILE - Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations, speaks with VOA's Ingyin Naing at the Office of the Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations in New York, Dec. 9, 2022.

This week the U.N. Security Council passed its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years, demanding the military junta immediately end violence in the Southeast Asian nation and free all political prisoners, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

Junta allies China and Russia abstained instead of vetoing Wednesday’s measure. On Friday, the junta’s foreign ministry released a statement accusing the U.N. of “exerting pressure to destabilize Myanmar rather than supporting the government’s efforts.”

Earlier this month, the United Nations upheld the credentials of Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, who represents the previous civilian government. He welcomed the Security Council resolution, and in an interview Thursday with VOA he highlighted the efforts of Southeast Asian nations in helping to ease the opposition of Russia and China on the Myanmar issue.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

VOA: Why did the Myanmar junta’s allies, Russia and China, decline to object to the draft resolution despite the fact they could have used their veto power as permanent members of the Security Council?

Kyaw Moe Tun: The strength of the ASEAN member countries, especially the roles of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, who listen to the voice of our Myanmar people, is very crucial. The pressure from ASEAN made the Security Council finally adopt the resolution.

Another thing is that the member countries of the Security Council are paying close attention to the concerns of ASEAN, which has always called for the involvement and support of the Security Council and the U.N. to solve the Myanmar crisis. That kind of demand from the regional group made it difficult for China and Russia to be against the resolution of the Myanmar crisis.

The members of the UNSC also closely consulted with ASEAN in the whole process of drafting the resolution on Myanmar. We can also see in the resolution that it asks the junta for immediate and concrete implementation of ASEAN’s five-point consensus.

Therefore, after the Security Council approved the resolution on the Myanmar situation, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore released immediately their welcome statements. It is very important to us that Indonesia, which is actively leading in putting pressure on the junta in the regional group, will be the next president of ASEAN on January 1, 2023.

VOA: Reading from a statement by the exiled Myanmar National Unity Government after the vote on the resolution, you also said that you would have liked to see stronger elements in the resolution. Could you please elaborate on which elements you would like to see?

Kyaw Moe Tun: To see stronger language in the resolution on the atrocities committed against the people of Myanmar by the military. ... We [would] also like to see, if they fail to comply with the provisions of the resolution, the Chapter VII language, which takes action against the Myanmar military, … added to the resolution. In regard to the reporting, we would like to see regular reporting to the Security Council by the U.N. secretary and the U.N. member states. We also would like to see arms embargoes against the military, because the last year at the General Assembly the resolution clearly mentioned preventing the flow of arms to Myanmar. So in particular, we [would] like to see an arms embargo against the military.

VOA: What do you think will be the impact from the Security Council resolution on Myanmar?

Kyaw Moe Tun: It can be said that it is a very effective decision politically. This is because if the Security Council makes a decision like this, all U.N. member states must comply due to legally binding rules, and they cannot object and be responsible to follow up. If there is no follow-up, a serious resolution will be made gradually. Perhaps the text in the resolution is weak. However, I believe that this kind of legally binding resolution from the UNSC definitely strikes the Myanmar junta.

The resolution mandated the U.N. secretary-general to brief the council on the situation in Myanmar next March. It also includes numerous references to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which adopted a five-point consensus in April 2021 in response to the Myanmar coup. It expresses deep concern at the "ongoing state of emergency" imposed by the military in Myanmar on February 1, 2021, and its grave impact on the people of Myanmar. The resolution also condemns the military's execution of pro-democracy activists.