The US has succeeded in getting the issue of Myanmar to be included in the United Nations Security Council agenda.
The Council voted 10-4, with one abstention to debate Myanmar’s human rights violation. Tanzania abstained. China, Congo, Qatar and Russia have voted against the formal request to include Myanmar on the UN Security agenda.
The vote generated a strong vocal response from the Chinese. The Chinese ambassador Wang Guangya described US ambassador John Bolton’s demand to debateMyanmar, “preposterous.” Wang said that the human rights and drug problems in Myanmar could not be seen as a threat to the international peace and security. Instead, he called for the international community not to lose sight of Myanmar’s efforts to tackle these problems. (Xinhua General News Service has been carrying several articles on the efforts of the Myanmar government to tackle issues such as crime, drug and changes in policies to promote economic development particularly in the border and financial sector).
Bolton had said in a letter to the Council members that the existing conditions in Myanmar “threaten to have a destabilising impact on the region.” The US First Lady Laura Bush is scheduled to host a roundtable discussion on Myanmar on Tuesday, 19 September 2006 at the United Nations to drum up support for a US-sponsored resolution calling for the Myanmar junta to release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and to have an all-inclusive political process.
The Russia’s objection to the inclusion of Myanmar on the agenda is partly related to its interest in Myanmar’s natural resources. This week, an agreement was signed between the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, Russia’s Itera Oil and Gas Company and India’s Sun Group to jointly explore, drill and extract oil and gas found in the Mottama Offshore Block (M-8).
While some in the international community are adding pressure on the Myanmar military junta to liberalise, the junta has been successful thus far in win over political allies with its natural resources. While it does not seem likely that massive demonstrations would erupt against the regime as in the eighties, the living conditions inMyanmar continue to deteriorate. The Straits Times (Singapore) published an article with some interviews of people in Myanmar expressing the lack of optimism over the resumption of the National Convention (which is drafting the constitution) in October. The article also cited a Myanmar analyst living in exile, saying, “The Myanmar junta is becoming increasingly repressive and the NLD becoming ever less effective.” The current situation for the people in Myanmar is indeed bleak.
UN Security Council Votes to Hear Burma Issue (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 18 September 2006)
Little Hope for Change in Myanmar (The Straits Times, 18 September 2006)