New UN pressure on Myanmar

It’s a great news for Bangladesh: Dr Momen

In a new development, the UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution condemning Myanmar’s atrocities and human rights abuse against Muslim Rohingya people who took shelter in Bangladesh fleeing ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the Rakhine State.

“It’s a great news for us,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told Bangladesh Post in a reaction on Saturday, hours after the General Assembly’s endorsement of the resolution in New York.

Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas. As many as 750,000 of them fled since August 2017 following military crackdown.

Despite attempts, none returned to their homeland citing Myanmar's failure to create conditions conducive to their ‘voluntary, safe and dignified’ return.

This is the third time the resolution has been adopted by the General Assembly since 2017.  “This is an expression of international community's continued solidarity with the cause of Rohingyas,” the foreign minister told Bangladesh Post.

“134 countries voted in our favour. It’s an overwhelming majority. It means international community has strong support for us,” he said. 

“It’s also a significant development in terms of strengthening the ongoing justice and accountability initiatives further.” The 74th session of the General Assembly at its 52nd (resumed) meeting adopted the resolution titled ‘Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar’ on Friday (Saturday Bangladesh time).

Some 134 countries out of 193 members voted in favour, nine voted against and 28 abstained, according to Bangladesh’s Permanent Mission in New York that keeps close eyes on the issue by remaining engaged in the entire process of drafting, negotiation and adoption.

The resolution, co-tabled by the OIC and EU, was earlier adopted at the ‘Third Committee’ on November 14 also with an overwhelming majority and Friday’s General Assembly endorsement in New York came after settlement of its budgetary issues at the ‘Fifth Committee’. 

In the same session, the General Assembly also approved by consensus the regular budget allocation for operationalising the ‘Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM)’ which was created by the Human Rights Council resolution 39/2 of September 2018.

The IIMM is the successor to the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.  The General Assembly endorsements of the Myanmar resolution and the IIMM are significant developments since they are expected to further strengthen the ongoing justice and accountability initiatives including at the ICJ and ICC, the Bangladesh mission in New York said in a statement.

The resolution calls on Myanmar to stop atrocities against Rohingyas. They also expressed alarm at the continuing influx of Rohingya to Bangladesh over the past four decades ‘in the aftermath of atrocities committed by the security and armed forces of Myanmar’.

It highlighted the findings of an independent international mission ‘of gross human rights violations and abuses suffered by Rohingya Muslims and other minorities’ by Myanmar's security forces, which the mission described as ‘the gravest crimes under international law’.

The resolution called on Myanmar to protect all groups and to ensure justice for all violations of human rights.  The UN General Assembly’s resolutions are not legally binding. But those reflect world opinion.