What's In Blue

Posted Thu 8 Apr 2021

Myanmar: Arria-formula Meeting

Tomorrow (9 April) at 10am (EST), Council members will convene virtually for an Arria-formula meeting on Myanmar. Initiated by the UK, the meeting is being co-sponsored by Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway and the US. The expected briefers include Sai Sam Kham, a civil society representative from Myanmar; Richard Horsey, Senior Adviser at International Crisis Group; and Daw Zin Mar Aung, from the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH). Myanmar’s permanent representative, Kyaw Moe Tun, is also expected to participate.

The meeting is expected to be broadcast via UNTV.

Council members have met three times to discuss the situation in Myanmar since the 1 February government take-over by the Myanmar military (also known as the Tatmadaw). In these meetings, which have been held in closed videoconference format, Council members were briefed by Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener. Thus far, the Council has not been able to hear from a wider array of briefers since the closed consultations format does not allow briefers from outside the UN system and there has been resistance to a public Council meeting on Myanmar. According to a concept note prepared by the UK, tomorrow’s Arria-formula meeting would provide a platform for “Myanmar voices to brief the Security Council on the current situation from their perspectives and those of the people they represent”.

The briefers are expected to discuss the various national, regional, and international implications of the developments in Myanmar since 1 February. Sai Sam Kham is likely to address the effect of the coup on the ethnic communities in Myanmar. Council members may be interested to hear his analysis on whether ethnic armed groups may join forces with those opposing the government take-over and the possible consequences of such developments on stability in the country.

Horsey is expected to cover the potential for further violence and the impact on regional stability, particularly considering the influx of refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries. He may also cover the economic effects of recent protests as well as the impact of the crisis on an already fragile humanitarian situation in many parts of Myanmar. Members may be interested in hearing Horsey’s views on the diplomatic and security challenges for the region and the role that ASEAN could play. Horsey may urge countries to impose arms embargoes and avoid actions that could be construed as recognition of the military regime as Myanmar’s legitimate government.

Daw Zin Mar Aung is likely to focus on the Federal Democracy Charter that the CRPH— which was formed by the democratically elected representatives in Myanmar on 4 February—published on 1 April. The charter was developed following consultations with political parties, ethnic armed organisations and civil society in Myanmar. A statement from the CRPH said that an interim unity government should be formed based on the charter. Some members will be interested in further details on the CRPH’s plan to establish a federal democratic union and interim constitutional arrangements ahead of adopting a new constitution, as indicated in the charter.

Kyaw Moe Tun in his statement is likely to urge the international community to increase its pressure on the military. Following the Tatmadaw’s actions on 1 February, Council members issued a press statement on 4 February and adopted a presidential statement on 10 March. Council members also agreed on press elements on 1 April, following their most recent meeting on Myanmar, which took place on 31 March. Kyaw Moe Tun may also call for stronger action from the Council, including imposing targeted sanctions and instituting a temporary halt on foreign investment.

Council members are expected to make statements during the meeting. As this meeting will be held in an open format, it provides a rare opportunity for members to state their views publicly on recent developments in Myanmar. Members are expected to show support for the democratic process in Myanmar, condemn the rising levels of violence and emphasise the need to de-escalate the situation. Some Council members, including the European members, may strongly condemn the military’s actions, while others—such as China, India, Russia and Viet Nam—are expected to use milder language. Members are also expected to have different positions on some of the questions posed in the concept note, which include:

  • What further steps can the UN, including the Security Council, take to support democracy in Myanmar?
  • How can the UN, including the Security Council, prevent a further deterioration of the situation in Myanmar and the associated threat to regional stability and international peace and security?
  • What steps can the UN, including the Security Council, take to protect the ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar?