Bangladesh abstains from voting as UN’s Myanmar resolution ‘disappoints’ Dhaka

Dhaka has expressed “deep disappointment” during adoption of the resolution on the situation of Myanmar in the UN General Assembly.

Bangladesh abstained from the voting and the Permanent Representative at the UN, Ambassador Rabab Fatima, in her explanation of vote said that the resolution failed “to adequately reflect on the Rohingya crisis and in recommending any actions to resolve that crisis”.

She expressed “dismay” at the resolution, which she said, would be sending a “wrong message”. She said that the failure of the international community in addressing the crisis creates “a sense of impunity in Myanmar”. 

She, however, said: “While we abstained in this resolution today our efforts to resolve the Rohingya crisis with support from this august assembly would continue. For the last four years, we have received overwhelming support from the international community on the Rohingya issue.”

The resolution on the 'Situation in Myanmar' was adopted with 119 votes in favour, 01 against and 36 abstentions, focusing on the current democratic crisis in the country, including the declaration of emergency, and detention of its political leader, calling for restoration of democracy, while recognising the central role of ASEAN. 

Ambassador Fatima said the resolution is of “utmost significance” to Bangladesh.

“We share borders with Myanmar; we host over a million of their people. Therefore, stability in Myanmar is critically important for us in finding a durable solution for the million Rohingya we host, who are victims of atrocity crimes. However, the resolution that was adopted falls far short of our expectations. It fails to recognize in its operative part, the urgent need for creating conditions for the safe, voluntary and sustainable return of the displaced minorities of Myanmar, particularly the Rohingyas,” she said.

“We acknowledge the efforts of the member states who had been involved in the negotiations. We thank those who reached out to us, and consulted us. However, we do not see our fundamental priorities adequately reflected in the resolution, especially in the operative part. Therefore, despite being one of the most affected countries, we decided to abstain from this resolution.”

The resolution was initiated by a core group of member States including the US, EU, UK, and Canada among others. 

The core group finalised the resolution in consultation with ASEAN members, who recently held a Leaders’ Summit in Bangkok, which was also attended by the Myanmar military leader. 

The General Assembly resolution welcomes the five-point consensus reached at the Leader’s Summit and calls for its swift implementation, the foreign ministry said.

However, the resolution did not include any recommendations or actions on the issue of repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar. 

“Neither does it recognize or stress the need for creating a conducive environment in Rakhine for the safe, sustainable and dignified return. The resolution also lacks determination to address root causes of the Rohingya crisis through collective means. As such fundamental issues were not included in the resolution; therefore Bangladesh decided to abstain.”

Some key OIC members, including some ASEAN and SAARC members also abstained.

A large number of countries spoke after the adoption of the resolution, and they all commended Bangladesh's tremendous sacrifice and contribution in hosting the Rohingyas. 

However, this General Assembly resolution, which has been initiated under the agenda item “prevention of armed conflict”, is separate from the annual 3rd committee ‘resolution on the situation of human rights of the Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar’.

The 3rd committee resolution on the Rohingya Muslims is spearheaded by Bangladesh along with the OIC and the EU. It is usually tabled in October during the annual session of the UN General Assembly, and enjoys strong support of the wider membership of the UN.