Security Council Finally Moving Towards “substantial progress” on Rohingya Crisis

Yesterday’s impromptu question and answer period with a Myanmar representative has left Security Council Members scrambling to make heavy revisions to a draft working paper on the Rohingya Crisis. The representative continued to deny any allegations of genocide and military aggression causing many in the Council to call for the use of more assertive language and tactics. Despite some conflicting opinion on what tactics should be used all members agree on putting an end to the violence and military aggression. These talks can be seen as the first real step in achieving consensus on how to bring Myanmar to the table for substantial action. It is ultimately up to Myanmar to cooperate, but these pressures are a sure signal that the international community will not ignore the atrocities Myanmar has committed.  

Previously tabled ideas such as imposing sanctions on the Myanmar Government were raised again gaining support from the United Kingdom, France, Ukraine and Sweden. While not an ideal situation the majority of the council feels it is a necessary pressure as diplomatic and neutral wording has failed to bring Myanmar closer to successful negotiation. Sanctions are being described as a “last resort” by the representative of France and feels that the situation has become “insanely dire”.  On the other hand, Saudi Arabia states that Myanmar needs to “maintain economic stability [and will] not advocate for tough sanctions”. After long deliberation the use of “indirect sanctions” has be written into the revised working paper in hopes to have an effect on Myanmar’s future actions. These sanctions may provide the pressure needed to push Myanmar into formidable discussions; however, their denials of genocide remain the largest barrier in achieving peace in the Rakhine State and for the Rohingya people.

Positive incentives such as debt/loan forgiveness, under the condition Myanmar cooperates at the negotiation table, have been loudly promoted by Japan and China. China offering an upwards of a ~50%-~60% forgiveness of Myanmar’s debt with the condition that Myanmar opens the Rakhine State for Rohingya resettlement. If negative sanctions do not work perhaps positives one may. For now, many international efforts have been ignored and resulted in a sort of “vagueness of cooperating with the international community”, as described by the Ukrainian representative. It must be noted that any action outlined in this new daft paper is better than the immense failure of diplomatic channels previously undertaken.     

Earlier discussion about the legal status of the Rohingya has been left in limbo with few delegations willing to tell Myanmar ‘what to do’. Talks of a green card System for returning Rohingya have been discussed by Sweden, Uruguay and Egypt as a vital solution needed to reaffirm the rights of the Rohingya to remain in their homeland. The representative from Egypt stating that “with no recognition can be no future peace”.  These sentiments are not met by all member of the council and have lead China and Russia to threatened a veto any working paper that may impede on Myanmar’s sovereignty including the discussion of citizenship matters. As Myanmar’s inaction continues any question of citizenship will remain a distant thought. This is a systemic issue that if left unresolved will continue undermine the basic human rights of the Rohingya and will only be effectively addressed if there is the political will within the Myanmar Government.

The solutions being worked on by the Security Council are far from perfect, but should be seen as a strong step in the right direction in carrying out meaningful action to pressure the Myanmar Government into taking part in negotiations.