UN rights council condemns Myanmar abuses, urges immediate action

Human Rights

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council strongly condemned all violations and abuses of human rights in Myanmar, particularly following the military coup in February 2021.  

It called upon Myanmar “to end immediately all violence and violations of international law in the country, to ensure full protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons in Myanmar, including Rohingya Muslims and other minorities”.

It also called for addressing the root causes of the crisis and forging a viable, lasting and durable solution, as well as eliminating statelessness and institutionalized discrimination against members of ethnic and religious minorities, particularly the Rohingya.

Horrific violence

The predominantly Muslim Rohingya community suffered horrific violence at the hands of the country’s security forces in 2017, prompting the exodus of several hundred thousand into Bangladesh, where they continue to languish in refugee camps.

Despite provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January 2020, Rohingya in Myanmar, including women and children, continue to suffer from targeted killings and indiscriminate violence, including by airstrikes, shelling, burning, landmines and unexploded ordnance.

According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 1,052 civilian casualties were recorded from landmine and explosive ordnance incidents during 2023 – more than three times the 390 fatalities the year before.

Over 20 per cent of the victims were children.

Credible, international investigations  

The 47-member Human Rights Council (HRC), UN’s highest intergovernmental forum on all rights-related matters, also highlighted the need international, independent, fair and transparent investigations for allegations of sexual and gender-based violence and abuses against women and children and alleged war crimes.

It reiterated the importance of holding accountable all those responsible for brutal acts and crimes against all persons to deliver justice to victims using all appropriate legal instruments and judicial mechanisms, including the ICJ and the International Criminal Court (ICC), as applicable.

Rains lash an internally displaced persons camp in northern Myanmar. (file)

Conflict spillover worries

The Geneva-based Council further raised alarm over the cross-border spillover effect of the conflict in Myanmar, which has reportedly caused death and damage to property in Bangladesh and other bordering countries.

It underscored the need for immediate cessation of fighting and hostilities and the targeting of civilians.

It also called for an “inclusive and comprehensive” national political dialogue and nationwide reconciliation process while “ensuring the full, effective and meaningful participation” of all ethnic groups, including Rohingya and other minorities, women, young people and persons with disabilities, as well as civil society and religious leaders.

Stop hate speech

Also in the resolution, the HRC called on Myanmar to combat incitement to hatred and hate speech against Rohingya and other minorities, online and offline, including by enacting necessary anti-hate speech and crime laws.

It also urged the country to lift the shutdown of Internet and telecommunications services fully in all areas, including in Rakhine state, and to avoid further cutting of Internet and telecommunications access and stifling freedom of opinion and expression.

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