MPI joined 358 CSOs urging UN Member States to ensure that Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun retains his position as Myanmar’s representative to the UN for the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. Read the full letter below.
To Permanent Representatives of Member States of the UN General Assembly
10 September 2021
Open Letter in Support of Continuing Recognition of Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun as Myanmar’s Permanent Representative at the UN General Assembly
We, the undersigned, representing a broad movement of 358 Myanmar and international civil society organizations, urge you to ensure that the current Permanent Representative (PR) of Myanmar to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun, retains his position as Myanmar’s representative to the UN for the upcoming 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), scheduled to begin on 14 September 2021.
Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun is the incumbent representative of Myanmar and he represented Myanmar throughout the 75th session of the UNGA after his credentials were accepted by the Credentials Committee in November 2020 and approved by the UNGA on 1 December (A/RES/75/19). He was appointed as Myanmar’s PR to the UN by the democratically elected government of Myanmar, which had held office since 2016. His credentials were renewed by the current duly elected government of Myanmar.
The new government, which won in a free, fair and credible general election in November 2020, was due to be formed in February 2021 and take office in March. The general election, which was observed by accredited international election monitoring bodies including the Asian Network for Free Elections and the Carter Center, certified that the election reflected the will of the people of Myanmar. However, on 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military launched a coup, physically prevented the scheduled session of the new parliament and forcibly detained elected members of Parliaments.
Since then, massive and broad anti-coup protests have continued throughout the country. The junta’s attempt to take control of Myanmar by force have been resisted by these ongoing protests, boycotts, strikes and coordinated civil disobedience movements by civil servants, private sector employees and civilians. Over 400,000 civil servants have been on strike against the junta since February. Ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), who have also opposed the coup, continue to exercise control over extensive territories in Myanmar’s borderlands.
In its effort to assert control, the military has killed, arbitrarily detained, raped, tortured, and looted homes and villages. Since February, the junta has killed 1,058 people, including at least 75 children and arrested 7,992. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar has stated that these heinous tactics designed to instill terror in the population amount to crimes under international law, including crimes against humanity. Despite the junta’s brutal campaign of terror and repression, the people continue to resist, and the coup has totally failed.
On 26 February, Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun, during an informal meeting of the UNGA, unequivocally denounced the 1 February attempted military coup calling on states not to recognize or legitimize the military junta. Since then, he has continued to represent Myanmar on behalf of the National Unity Government (NUG) formed on 16 April 2021 by elected members of parliament, representatives of various ethnic groups and civil society leaders. The NUG has established its cabinet with respective ministries and continues to provide valuable services to the people of Myanmar, including in handling the COVID-19 crisis and overseeing the provision of humanitarian aid.
In June, the UNGA in its resolution on Myanmar (A/RES/75/287) condemned in the strongest terms “the excessive and lethal violence by the Myanmar armed forces since 1 February 2021.” It further called on the military to “respect the will of the people as freely expressed by the results of the general election of 8 November 2020,” and restore democracy under a fully inclusive civilian government that is representative of the will of the people of Myanmar. The resolution also expressed concern “at the persistent impunity for crimes committed by the Myanmar armed forces,” as the ongoing conflicts in ethnic areas, including in Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Rakhine, Shan and southern Chin states between EAOs and the Myanmar military have intensified since the coup, displacing over 230,000 people.
Such a political expression of condemnation of the coup by UN Member States is significant. Over the past three decades, only three other UNGA resolutions have condemned a military coup: Haiti (1991), Burundi (1993), and Honduras (2009). The resolution passed with overwhelming support with 119 members in favor to 1 against (Belarus) and 36 abstentions. Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun as the representative, Myanmar voted in favor of the resolution. Since the attempted coup, the Ambassador has provided a crucial voice at the UN for Myanmar’s democratically-elected government and people.
Notably, the presidential statement by the UN Security Council on 10 March 2021 also expressed deep concern regarding the situation in Myanmar and referred to those members of parliament arbitrarily detained by the junta as the “members of the Government.” These statements by the UNGA and the Security Council are a clear denunciation by the international community that the actions taken by the junta are contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
Therefore, we urge the Credentials Committee to recommend for the UNGA to accept the credentials of Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun for the 76th session of the UNGA and ensure he retains his seat as the representative of Myanmar. Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun is the appointee of the representatives of Myanmar, duly elected by the people. A recommendation that his credentials be accepted would be to respect the will of the people of Myanmar, expressed overwhelmingly during recent elections, and be consistent with the June 2021 UNGA resolution on Myanmar and statements by the Security Council.1
We also urge the Credentials Committee to outrightly dismiss the proposed credentials of the representative of the illegitimate military junta. The military junta has no democratic legitimacy: it is unable to establish government functions, it does not have effective control over the territory of Myanmar, and it is a persistent perpetrator of international crimes. Any support for a junta-backed representative, would constitute a repudiation of the June 2021 UNGA resolution and principles of equality, human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the UN Charter and will only further embolden the military that has terrorized the country since its attempted coup.
Lastly, we would also like to address the possibility of Myanmar’s seat at the UNGA being left vacant with a deferral of the decision on accrediting a representative of Myanmar, or any other deal that would silence Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun. Myanmar’s participation in the UNGA is part of “important rights and privileges of membership.” Leaving an empty seat at the UN, or silencing the Ambassador, would mean that this right would be suspended due to the decision of the credentials process and would be contrary to the Purposes and Principles as set out in Article 1 and 2 of the Charter. In addition, it would dismiss the overwhelming outcome of Myanmar’s democratic elections that were held in 2020, and would lend weight to the junta's violent and unlawful attempt to seize power.
We therefore urge members of the UNGA to retain Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun’s accreditation as the Permanent Representative of Myanmar and call on your support in this matter.
We hope for a favorable response to this appeal. Please accept assurances of our highest consideration.
358 Myanmar and international civil society organizations
1 As stated in UNGA resolution (A/RES/396(v))) when there is a disputed claim to the government entitled to represent a Member State in the UN, the question “should be considered in light of the Purposes and Principles of the Charter.” For the reasons we have stated in this open letter, it is imperative that UNGA retains the Ambassador’s accreditation as the PR of Myanmar as it will ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms prevail in Myanmar, in clear affirmation of the UN's own principles and Charter.