Myanmar

Security Council calls for greater protection of civilians in Burma

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Christopher Smith

Following testimony and an open debate, the United Nations Security Council appealed for the increased protection of civilian populations threatened by continued violence, including those populations in Burma, calling for the rule of law and judicial redress to be respected and implemented.

"If there is one thing we need to do above all, it is to end the culture of impunity which underlies so many abuses," stated United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes.

Identifying rape as a weapon of war, United States Deputy Ambassador, Jackie Sanders, told the Council that "there are widespread reports of serious human rights abuses, including rape, by Burmese military personnel in conflict areas and other ethnic minority areas."

She went on to infer that there comes a time when, due to the lack of political will or capability of domestic government, the international community should consider intervening in the affairs of member states.

United Kingdom representative, Karen Pierce, also singled out the poor record of the Burmese government in protecting its civilian population, specifically drawing attention to the plight of local journalists working in the country.

However, while agreeing on the need to put an end to violence against civilians, the Burmese representative, Maung Wai, disagreed in the assessment of root causes put forth by the American and British representatives.

Speaking in the open debate, Maung Wai declared that non-state actors, as opposed to government and military personnel, are primarily to blame for violence against Burmese civilian populations.

Maung Wai continued by stressing the need to address the root causes through a process of national reconciliation. To this end, he told the delegates that to date the Burmese government has successfully brought 17 of 18 insurgent groups into the legal fold.