On September 23, a letter from 638 civil society organizations called on United Nations (UN) agencies to stop engaging with the junta and instead engage with the National Unity Government (NUG) and the revolutionary ethnic organizations (OIR).
They say UN agencies should present Letters of Agreement and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to the NUG and IROs rather than the junta. He also asks the UN to allow the NUG and its ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun to continue to represent Myanmar at the UN.
Below is the text of the letter:
Your Excellency, We, the undersigned 638 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), condemn in the strongest terms the recent public signing of new agreements and presentation of letters of appointment to Myanmar’s illegitimate military junta by agencies, funds , programs and other United Nations entities working inside Burma. We urge you to step up for a principled and coordinated United Nations response to the crisis in Myanmar. We call on you and all United Nations entities to immediately cease all forms of cooperation and engagement that lend legitimacy to the illegal murderous junta. Instead, appointment letters and agreements must be presented to the legitimate government of Myanmar, the National Unity Government (NUG) and the Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (ERO).
On December 10, 2021, 256 Myanmar CSOs urged UN entities not to engage with the junta in a way that gives them legitimacy. Despite these constant calls from the people of Myanmar and CSOs, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) all signed new agreements with the junta and presented credentials to the junta in August and September 2022. The public ceremonies , which were staged with photographs, were used as propaganda by the military junta in its continued attempts to assert its legitimacy. The people of Myanmar have categorically rejected their attempts to seize power since their illegal coup attempt on February 1, 2021.
For nearly a year and a half, the people of Myanmar have sacrificed their lives and livelihoods to defend democracy and their rights by engaging in political defiance and armed resistance – as a last resort. Their objective is to prevent the illegal military junta from taking over the country, as they are trying to do by inflicting immense suffering on the population.
Recent public actions by UN entities are direct interventions that clearly side with the military junta, undermining the ongoing collective resistance efforts and sacrifices of the Burmese people to end the tyranny of the Burmese military. and establish a federal democracy. This violates the principles of democracy, human rights and the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence and “do no harm” set out in the Joint Operational Standards and the UN Framework of Engagement , to which UN entities must comply and hold themselves accountable.
Additionally, in December 2021, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to endorse the recommendations of the UN Credentials Committee which had rejected the credentials of the military junta and allowed the outgoing ambassador, U Kyaw Moe Tun, who represents the National Unity Government (NUG) and therefore represents Myanmar, to retain his post in the United Nations General Assembly. UN entities, agencies, funds and programs in Myanmar should be guided by this decision and should publicly engage with the NUG and not the military junta.
The Burmese junta has neither political legitimacy nor territorial control over Myanmar. According to a recent analysis by a group of independent experts and former UN mandataries on Myanmar – Special Advisory Council for Myanmar – the NUG and the resistance organizations effectively control 52% of the territory of Myanmar, while that the junta is actively contested in Burma. 23% more of the territory. This means that the junta can only claim to have stable control over 17% of the territory.
Moreover, UN mandate holders have repeatedly raised concerns about the junta’s weaponization of humanitarian aid, actively destroying and restricting aid to the people. These realities call into question the effectiveness of the UN in reaching people in need by signing agreements to work with the very perpetrators behind the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. It also demonstrates the importance of signing agreements with the NUG and EROs, and the urgent need to work directly with local actors in the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including from Myanmar’s borders.
In the 598 days following the coup attempt, the Burmese army killed in cold blood at least 2,311 people, including 192 children. More than 15,400 people have been arbitrarily arrested, with at least 12,462 people still detained, many of whom are routinely tortured. The actual number of deaths and arrests is likely much higher. Myanmar’s military continues to commit gross human rights violations and atrocity crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, burning houses, burning villages, looting properties, massacring people, committing rapes and gang rapes, shooting on sight, indiscriminate bombing and launching airstrikes in cities. and towns. Crimes committed by the military over the past 19 months, in addition to crimes committed against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in the past, are collected by the United Nations, including the Independent Investigative Mechanism for the Myanmar.
The signing of the memorandums of understanding and agreements with the junta, coupled with the inconsistent, ineffective and unprincipled approach of the United Nations to resolving the crisis in Myanmar, sends the wrong message to the junta and to the world that it recognizes the body that terrorizes people of Myanmar and is responsible for serious international crimes. This not only encourages the junta to commit further atrocities with impunity, but indicates that the United Nations, in practice, does not respect the will of the people of Myanmar as adopted in resolutions and declarations, including by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council and in a statement issued by the President of the UN Security Council. Continuing problems with the UN’s approach to Myanmar, following its “systemic and structural failures” to provide a unified approach to address the 2017 Rohingya genocide, highlighted in the 2019 Rosenthal report, are blatant.
The people of Myanmar have said loud and clear that they want their legitimate government, the NUG, and their ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun to be their representatives at the UN. The will of the people of Myanmar in choosing their own government and therefore their own representative at the United Nations as well as in their struggle for federal democracy and human rights in their country must be fully recognized and respected by the UN and its Member States.
Your Excellency, as the people and civil society of Myanmar, the region and around the world, we urge all United Nations agencies, funds, programs and other entities to stop legitimizing the illegal killing junta and to appeal to your leadership in a coordinated response to the crisis in Myanmar. We call on UN agencies, funds, programs and other entities to work with the legitimate government of Myanmar, the NUG, EROs, CSOs and community organizations.