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The case for UN-supported, ASEAN-led negotiations on Myanmar
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-05, 01:43 authored by Rebecca Barber
Two years following Myanmar’s attempted military coup, the situation is at a stalemate. Little progress has been achieved against ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus, hailed as a major breakthrough in April 2021. Egregious human rights violations continue, and the military is reportedly losing ground but showing little inclination to negotiate. Facing internal political constraints, ASEAN has requested support from the UN. The Security Council has responded by ‘encouraging the international community’ to support ASEAN to resolve the crisis. The UN’s Special Envoy on Myanmar has for her part declared there is no room for ‘talks about talks’, and that she will focus on alleviating suffering. This commentary argues that the UN should do more. It recalls the Secretary-General’s prioritisation in 2017 of ‘diplomacy for peace’, and his ambitions for the UN’s mediation capacity. It reviews situations elsewhere in which the Secretary-General has exercised his ‘good offices’, through his Special Envoys and Representatives, and observes that the exercise of the Secretary-General’s good offices is typically enabled by a request from the Security Council. This commentary thus explores the possibility of ASEAN initiating such a request, with a view to prompting stronger UN support for ASEAN-led negotiations towards a political settlement in Myanmar.