There were two meetings on the situation in Myanmar in August. On 21 August, Council members discussed the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar under “any other business”. The meeting was requested by Belgium, France, Germany, the UK and the US following the Myanmar government’s announcement that it had cleared 3,450 people for repatriation on 22 August from a list of 22,000 provided by Bangladesh. Members were briefed by the High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of the Bureau of Policy and Programme Support Haoliang Xu. On 23 August, there was an Arria-formula meeting organised by Germany, Peru and Kuwait on “Mass Atrocity Crimes in Myanmar: Where do we stand on accountability?”
On 2 July, Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener briefed Council members on Myanmar during “any other business”. The closed briefing allowed members to raise questions about the situation in Myanmar including likely tensions in the run-up to the general elections in 2020, the Rohingya situation, and the continuing clashes between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar government forces. The UN’s activities in Myanmar were also discussed.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten briefed Council members under “any other business” on 20 March on her visit to Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw from 5 to 8 February. She provided Council members with information on her meetings with Myanmar government officials and the follow-up to the joint communiqué signed on 8 December 2018 between the UN and the government of Myanmar to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence.
The Council was briefed on 28 February on the situation in Myanmar from Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener, who visited the country at the end of January.
On 28 August, the Council was briefed by Secretary-General António Guterres, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett, and UNDP Associate Administrator Tegegnework Gettu on the situation in Myanmar and the Rohingya refugee crisis. The UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad, chaired the meeting. The meeting was held to discuss developments one year after the violent reaction by Myanmar military forces to the 25 August 2017 attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on security posts led to an exodus of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
On 14 May, the Council was briefed by Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi (Kuwait), Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra Velásquez (Peru), and Ambassador Karen Pierce (UK), the three co-leads on the Council’s visiting mission to Bangladesh and Myanmar from 28 April to 1 May. Following the briefing, Council members met in consultations, during which High Commissioner for Refugees Filipo Grandi briefed by video teleconference.
On 13 February, the Council was briefed by High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (via video teleconference) and Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča. This was followed by consultations where, in addition to Grandi and Jenča, representatives from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and OCHA were present to answer questions. The meeting was held at the request of eight members of the Council: Equatorial Guinea, France, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the UK and the US. Grandi warned that a major new emergency was looming as the monsoon season could bring with it flooding or landslides that could affect areas where some of the refugees were living in Bangladesh. He also said that the lack of humanitarian access was a major concern. Jenča expressed concern over whether the humanitarian needs of the refugees were being met and stressed that humanitarian access should be immediately granted. Jenča also covered developments in Kachin and northern Shan States and how they affected ongoing peace negotiations. A number of Council members highlighted the need for humanitarian access and stressed the need for the safe return of refugees. In addition, there were calls for the implementation of the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Committee.
On 12 December, the Council was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten on developments in Myanmar. Representatives from Bangladesh and Myanmar also participated in the meeting. In the consultations that followed, besides Feltman and Patten, representatives from OCHA, OHCHR, and UNHCR were present. Feltman welcomed the recent Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar and Bangladesh but noted that although the violence had subsided, the flow of refugees to Bangladesh was continuing, and Myanmar leaders needed to adopt measures to defuse tensions and create an environment for safe and dignified repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons. Patten reported on her visit to Rohingya refugee camps and said the accounts she heard of sexual atrocities against girls and women in Rakhine state indicated a pattern of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
On 13 October, at the initiative of France and the United Kingdom, an Arria-formula meeting was held on Myanmar, focusing on the situation in Rakhine state. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan briefed in his capacity as the Chair of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which was comprised of both Myanmar and international commissioners and published a final report on 23 August that included recommendations for improving the situation in the state with regard to conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, reconciliation, institution-building and development.
Council members were briefed on 13 September by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman under “any other business” on the deteriorating situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Following the meeting, press elements were issued in which Council members expressed concern at reports of excessive violence by security forces following the 25 August attacks by Rohingya armed groups on police border posts and called for “immediate steps to end the violence in Rakhine, de-escalate the situation, re-establish law and order, ensure the protection of civilians, restore normal socioeconomic conditions and resolve the refugee problem.” They also called for the government to facilitate humanitarian assistance and to fulfil commitments to provide aid to all displaced people. On 26 September, Council members were briefed again by Feltman under “any other business”. On 28 September, the Council was briefed by the Secretary-General in a public meeting.
On 17 March, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed Council members on the situation in Myanmar during informal consultations under “any other business”. Hui Lu, Deputy head, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (New York) was also present and responded to questions during the session. The main focus of the briefing was the situation in Rakhine, including the humanitarian challenges. Feltman also covered recent political developments and the efforts of the UN and regional organisations. Members expressed concerns about human rights violations and the humanitarian situation and were interested in how the UN could support the peace process.
On 17 November, at the request of the US, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, briefed Council members under “any other business”. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour was present to answer questions. The discussions focused on the recent escalation of violence in Rakhine state and the humanitarian and human rights situation. While emphasising that lack of access made it difficult to assess the situation, Nambiar said there were signs of more organised resistance by the Rohingya and a risk of further radicalisation of the conflict.
On 25 February, at the request of the UK, Special Adviser Vijay Nambiar briefed Council members under “any other business”. A representative from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was present to answer questions. Nambiar focused on the political transition, the peace process and the human rights situation. Earlier in the month, on 4 February, the UK sent a letter to the Council president requesting the retention of the situation in Myanmar on the list of items of which the Council is seized.
On 19 November the Special Advisor on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, briefed Council members in consultations under “any other business” at the request of the UK. He briefed on the 8 November elections in which the National League for Democracy, the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, won by a landslide. Nambiar welcomed the peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections, but noted as a serious flaw the disenfranchisement of the Rohingya.
On 28 August, at the request of the UK, Special Adviser Vijay Nambiar briefed Council members on Myanmar under “any other business” with Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović present to answer questions if they arose. An update was provided on progress towards signing a national ceasefire agreement, as well as the situation with regard to minority groups in Rakhine State, and preparations for elections later this year.
On 28 May, under “any other business”, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein briefed Council members via video teleconference on the human rights situation in Myanmar, in particular on the Rohingya and the related migration crisis in Southeast Asia.
On 2 April, at the request of the UK, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, briefed Council members in consultations under “any other business”. (Nambiar’s last such briefing was on 17 April 2014, also at the request of the UK.) Nambiar acknowledged recent positive developments such as continuing progress in the reform process and the 31 March nationwide ceasefire between ethnic armed groups and the government, but also noted continuing challenges in Rakhine state, increasing violence in Kachin and Northern Shan states and concerns about the human rights situation. Some Council members also participated in a meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar on 24 April.
On 17 April, at the request of the UK, the Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, briefed Council members in informal consultations under “any other business”. (His previous such briefing was on 16 April 2013.) The briefing focused on the situation in Rakhine, in particular the recent rise in inter-communal tensions there, the disruption of humanitarian aid and the controversy surrounding the census. Nambiar also spoke about the peace process and the prospects for constitutional reform. On 25 April, some Council members (Australia, the Republic of Korea and the P5) also participated in the first meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar, which featured a briefing by the Secretary-General. This forum was created as a result of a decision last September to reconfigure the Group of Friends on Myanmar. The minister of immigration and population affairs of Mynamar, U Khin Yi, attended the meeting. (By contrast, Myanmar did not attend the regular meetings of the Group of Friends.)
On 16 April, Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Myanmar, briefed Council members in consultations. It was Nambiar’s first briefing to the Council since 20 June 2012. He had visited Myanmar several times since then and updated Council members on the situation on the ground in Myanmar.
On 20 June, Council members were briefed in consultations by the Special Adviser who had visited Myanmar earlier that month. Council members were updated on the recent troubles in the western Rakhine State, where the communal violence between the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims has led to a humanitarian crisis.
On 10 April, Council members were briefed in informal consultations by the Special Adviser on the 1 April landmark by-elections that resulted in Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy winning 43 seats out of the 44 constituencies where it fielded candidates.
On 14 November, the Council was briefed in informal consultations by the Special Adviser on political developments in Myanmar. (The Special Adviser had just returned from an early November visit to the country where he met with Aung San Suu Kyi and several high-ranking government officials, including Vice President U Tin Aung Myint Oo, Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, as well as with representatives from opposition parties and civil society.)
On 6 December, Council members were briefed by the Special Advisor Vijay Nambiar on his visit to late November visit to Myanmar. (This was Nambiar’s first trip to the country since he took on the Secretary-General’s Good Offices role and engagement with Myanmar in January 2010.) Among the issues raised in both meetings was the appointment of a full time Secretary-General’s envoy for Myanmar. (Nambiar, who is also the Secretary-General’s Chief of Staff, took on this position in a temporary capacity following the departure of former UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari in January 2010.)
On 18 November, Council members were briefed in informal consultations by the Special Advisor following Myanmar’s first election in twenty years on 7 November and the 13 November release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who had spent most of the last two decades under house arrest. The Secretary-General urged Myanmar to release the remaining 2,200 or so political prisoners.
On 24 March the Council received a briefing from the Secretary-General’s Chief of Staff, Vijay Nambiar, on the rejection of the appeal by Aung San Suu Kyi against her sentence, the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, and the publication of the five new electoral laws.
On 11 August the Council held consultations to discuss the situation in Myanmar and the implications of Aung San Suu Kyi being sentenced to a further 18 months of house arrest. On 13 August the Council issued a press statement reiterating the importance of the release of all political prisoners. In that context the Council expressed serious concern at the conviction and sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi. It also noted the decision of the Myanmar government to reduce Aung San Suu Kyi’s sentence from three years of hard labour to 18 months house arrest.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Myanmar and met with senior officials but his request to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi was denied. ASEAN reiterated its call on the Myanmar government to immediately release all those under detention including Aung San Suu Kyi so that they can participate in the 2010 elections.
On 22 May the Council held consultations on Myanmar and issued a press statement expressing its concern about the political impact of recent developments relating to Aung San Suu Kyi. It reiterated the call for the release of all political prisoners and the need for the necessary conditions for genuine dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and all concerned parties in order to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation with the support of the UN.
On 20 February, Ibrahim Gambari, the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Myanmar, briefed the Council in informal consultations on his 31 January-3 February visit to Myanmar. Following the briefing, Gambari said that he had told the Council that although there was no tangible outcome from his visit, there was some movement. The Secretary-General, in remarks to the press following the meeting, noted the amnesty announced by Myanmar on 20 February, which reportedly includes 23 political prisoners, but reiterated his call for the release of all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi.
On 11 September the Special Advisor briefed the Council in consultation on his August trip to Myanmar. Following the briefing, Gambari said that tangible results from the trip fell below expectations and that it was important for the government to deliver substantive results to key concerns. On 27 September the Secretary-General convened the first high-level meeting of the Group of Friends on Myanmar.
On 2 May, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement that welcomed the commitment from the Myanmar government that the referendum process would be free and fair and underlined the need for the government to “establish the conditions and create an atmosphere conducive to an inclusive and credible process”. The Myanmar ambassador responded with a letter characterising the presidential statement as “highly objectionable”. On 7 May, after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, France asked the Council to consider using “responsibility to protect” as the basis for Council action to get aid into Myanmar. This proposal was met with considerable resistance.
On 18 March, the Special Envoy on Myanmar briefed the Council on his visit to Myanmar earlier that month. He expressed disappointment at not obtaining any tangible outcome but also stressed that it was important for the UN to keep engaging with the authorities. The Council met in consultations after the public briefing. In other developemnts, the Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Myanmar reported that the government had accelerated rather than stopped unlawful arrests and that around 1,850 political prisoners were behind bars as of January 2008. (The Special Rapporteur had travelled to Myanmar for the first time in four years in November 2007.)
The Myanmar government announced on 19 February that it will hold a referendum on a new constitution written under military guidance, and “multi-party democratic” elections in 2010.
The Special Adviser briefed the Council on 13 November regarding his mission to Myanmar earlier that month. The Council issued a press statement which deplored “that many prisoners are still in jail and new arrests have occurred”; stressed the need for the Myanmar government “to create conditions for dialogue and reconciliation by relaxing as a first step, the conditions of detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and release of political prisoners and detainees”; and confirmed that the Council would “keep developments in Myanmar under close review.” On 8 November, while in Singapore on his way back to New York from Myanmar, the Special Adviser relased a statement on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi in which she said that she was ready to cooperate with the government to make the dialogue process a success and expressed her commitment to pursuing the path of dialogue constructively. In other developments, on 2 November the government had asked the head of the UNDP in Myanmar, to leave in reaction to a UNDP statement urging the government to listen to dissenting voices and warning of a “deteriorating humanitarian situation.”
On 11 October, the Council adopted its first presidential statement on Myanmar deploring the use of violence against demonstrations and emphasising the importance of early release of prisoners.
The Security Council held an emergency meeting on 26 September during which it supported the Secretary-General’s decision to send the Special Adviser to the region. On 3 September, the Special Adviser said in a press conference that the crackdown by Myanmar’s government called into question its commitment to democratisation and made it more difficult to maintain international support for Myanmar. His remarks were in response to peaceful protests in early September by Buddhist monks in support of the demonstrations that began in August. Tensions between government officials and the monks escalated when several monks were hurt by officials. The monks reacted by briefly kidnapping security officers and burning their cars. The government then posted police in front of monasteries in key cities. Also in early September, the government had completed the first stage of its “roadmap to democracy” producing guidelines for a new constitution. Observers noted that a constitution based on these guidelines would legitimise military rule.
The International Committee of the Red Cross publicly censured Myanmar’s government accusing it of committing serious abuses against detainees and civilians.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari briefed the Council on 27 November on his recent visit to Myanmar.
On 29 September the Council was briefed on Myanmar by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari who covered the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Myanmar, the human rights and refugee problem in the Karen state and progress towards an inclusive and democratic political process. Even though the Council received briefings on Myanmar previously, this will be the first briefing with the situation in Myanmar being officially on the Council agenda. The Council took a rare procedural vote to add this item.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari briefed the Council on 31 May on his visit to Myanmar. After the briefing which took place under “other matters” all the European Council members, the US, Russia, China, Japan and Ghana made statements. The Council did not take any immediate action.
The Security Council held its first ever briefing on the situation in Myanmar on 16 December.
The US raised concerns about Myanmar at the Council’s closed consultations under “other matters.”
In January 1993, the Myanmar government started a national constitutional convention. In 1995, National League for Democracy members walked out of the national constitutional convention because of restrictions on debate.
The General Assembly passed resolution 46/132 on 17 December, deploring the fact that the Government of Myanmar had not fulfilled commitments to taking steps toward the establishment of a democracy and expressed concern at the seriousness of the human rights situation in the country.
Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent opposition to the government.
On 27 May, the National League for Democracy won 80 percent of the parliamentary seats in the first multiparty election since a military coup toppled the government in 1962. The military regime refused to relinquish power.
The military government changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar.
The government placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.
General Ne Win led a military coup that toppled the government.
4 January 1948
Burma gained independence from Great Britain.