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UN Human Rights Council calls for aviation fuel embargo against Myanmar

The UN Human Rights Council adopted resolutions Thursday to call on UN member states to refrain from supplying jet fuel to the Myanmar military.

By Derren Chan | UBC Law, CA | HKU Law, CN/HK

April 8, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

The UN Human Rights Council adopted resolutions Thursday to call on UN member states to refrain from supplying jet fuel to the Myanmar military. The council also extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and Myanmar and the independent international fact-finding mission on Iran.

All members from the council, excluding China, adopted the resolution to call on all UN member states to:

refrain … from the export, sale or transfer of jet fuel, surveillance goods and technologies and less-lethal weapons, including “dual-use” items, when they assess that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that such goods, technologies or weapons might be used to violate or abuse human rights, including in the context of assemblies.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Research Montse Ferre welcomed the resolution, claiming that the resolution is urgently needed amid the escalating conflict that lasted for more than three years after the military coup that caused mass internal displacement. Ferre further called on member states to take all necessary actions to prevent entities from supplying aviation fuel to the Myanmar military within their jurisdictions, noting the military’s ability to bypass international restrictions.

Previously, in November 2022, Amnesty International published its findings on the involvement of global enterprises in providing aviation fuel to the Myanmar military, enabling them to launch air strikes that targeted civilians, protected cultural properties and medical facilities. Amnesty International alleged these strikes amounted to war crimes under customary international humanitarian law. Accordingly, the UK, the US, Canada, the EU and Switzerland imposed sanctions on the entities involved in Myanmar and Singapore.

The UN Security Council also discussed the need to take measures to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Myanmar, including appointing a UN Special Envoy on Thursday. Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations Khaled Khiari said the escalating armed conflict in Myanmar has deprived communities of basic needs and access to essential services. Khiari also called for the immediate release of the democratically elected leaders, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Most of the UN Security Council members condemned the ongoing violence in Myanmar.

Both Russia and China expressed their opposition to putting pressure on Myanmar through the UN Security Council. Russia suggested that Myanmar did not pose a threat to international security, and China contended that the ongoing conflict is Myanmar’s internal affair. Human Rights Watch Asia Advocacy Director John Sifton contended that the UN Security Council’s inaction demonstrated a conflicting approach with the UN Human Rights Council. He also called for the Security Council to act swiftly and resolve the humanitarian crisis.

The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar was established in 2018. An independent international fact-finding mission commissioned by the council concluded that genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes may have been committed in Myanmar.

These human rights violations include murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, rape, sexual slavery, sexual violence, persecution and enslavement. In 2019, the International Criminal Court also authorized its Prosecutors to investigate alleged crimes related to the forced deportation of an estimated one million Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh under the Rome Statute.

Apart from Myanmar, the UN Human Rights Council also adopted another six resolutions Thursday relating to the human rights situation in Iran, rights of intersex persons, rights of persons with albinism, rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, freedom of religion or belief, and human rights and a culture of peace.



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