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GA/12339
18 June 2021
Seventy-fifth Session, 82nd & 83rd Meetings (AM & PM)

General Assembly Reappoints Secretary-General to Second Five-Year Term, Adopting Resolution Condemning Lethal Violence by Myanmar’s Armed Forces

Permanent Representative, Supporting Text, Denounces Delayed International Response, Calls for Strongest Action by Security Council

The General Assembly today unanimously appointed Secretary-General António Guterres for a second five-year term beginning 1 January 2022, while adopting a landmark resolution calling upon the armed forces of Myanmar to immediately stop violence against peaceful demonstrators and allow the sustained democratic transition of the country.

Acting first on the recommendation of the Security Council to reappoint Mr. Guterres, the Assembly adopted a resolution by acclamation renewing his term for another five years.  By the text, the Assembly also expressed its appreciation for his effective and dedicated service during his first term, which ends on 31 December 2021.

Mr. Guterres, after taking the oath of office, said he is “deeply honoured and grateful” for the trust Member States have placed in him.  History can go either way:  breakdown and perpetual crisis or breakthrough and prospect of a greener, safer and better future for all, he said, declaring:  “I pledge to you that I will do everything in my power during my second term in office to contribute to the positive, breakthrough scenario.”

Outlining some of his strategic priorities, he stressed that the United Nations must consolidate the current reforms and continue to develop new methods of work.  A United Nations “2.0” needs to accelerate transformation through a quintet of change — better data, analysis and communications’ innovation and digital transformation; strategic foresight; stronger performance and results orientation; and a work culture that reduces bureaucracy.

Equally, what is needed is a much more aligned and integrated Organization that works seamlessly across its pillars, he said, acknowledging that the Secretary-General alone neither has all the answers nor seeks to impose his views.  Rather, the top official supports Member States and relevant stakeholders to lead the necessary changes by using the unique convening role of the United Nations and working as an honest broker to help find solutions.

He said the Secretary-General must feel every day the acute responsibilities of the office.  “It is my intention to serve with humility… in the spirit of building trust and inspiring hope,” he declared.  “This is our common mission.”

Following the reappointment of Mr. Guterres, the Assembly reconvened to take up the draft resolution on the situation in Myanmar, introduced by Lichtenstein’s representative, who described a “real and present danger of full-fledged civil war”.  The military crackdown has reversed the democratic transition, killed peaceful protesters and stifled political dissent, he said, stressing that the text aims to bring Myanmar “back on the path to democracy”.

Adopting the resolution by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 1 against (Belarus) with 36 abstentions, the 193-nation organ called on the armed forces to respect the will of the people — as freely expressed in the 8 November 2020 general election — to end the state of emergency, respect all human rights and to allow sustained democratic transition, including the opening of a democratically elected parliament and by bringing all national institutions under a fully inclusive civilian Government.

By other terms, the Assembly called on Myanmar’s armed forces to immediately and unconditionally release President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and all others who have been arbitrarily detained, charged or arrested, and to engage constructively with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to realize an inclusive, peaceful dialogue among all stakeholders through a political process led and owned by the people of Myanmar.  To de-escalate violence, the Assembly called on all Member States to prevent the flow of arms to the country.

When delegates took the floor to explain their positions, Myanmar’s representative said his delegation supported the resolution from a belief that it will pressure the “murderous military” to cease its inhumane acts and consolidate the people’s efforts to restore democracy.  He expressed disappointment, however, that it took three months for the Assembly to act, recalling that on 26 February — “from this very seat” — he had appealed for the strongest possible action to end the coup.  If the international community had acted sooner, he observed, it could have prevented more than 800 civilian deaths.

Many delegates supported the resolution’s recognition of ASEAN’s efforts in the region and emphasizing the need to support the will of Myanmar’s people to restore democracy.  The resolution may be imperfect, some observed, but it is timely.  Others abstained, either stating that the text does not do enough to address the Rohingya crisis, falls outside the General Assembly’s purview, or citing a principled position against adopting country-specific resolutions.

The representative of Belarus — who called for the vote and cast the one lone ballot against the measure — denounced the “rushed”, “closed” process to produce a text, stressing that the failure to consult his delegation amounted to “open discrimination”.  Country-specific resolutions are always biased and one-sided, he added, and today’s text was no exception.

Canada’s representative, however, emphasized that attacks on civilians are not matters pertaining to just one country, and that, while the Charter of the United Nations speaks of the principle of sovereignty, it does not say that it “trumps every other value that we have as an Assembly”.

The representative of Bangladesh, whose country hosts 1 million Rohingyas who fled violence in Myanmar, said her delegation abstained from the vote, as the resolution fell short of its expectations, failing to recognize the urgent need to create the conditions for the safe, voluntary and sustainable return of the Rohingyas.  Any resolution on Myanmar will remain incomplete if it does not recognize the root causes of the crisis and make recommendations to address them, she asserted.

Also speaking in explanation of position on “L.85/Rev.1” were representatives of Iran, Egypt, Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, India, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam, Algeria, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.  Representatives of Costa Rica, Ukraine, Dominican Republic, Republic of Korea and Japan delivered general statements.

Volkan Bozkir (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, delivered opening remarks on the Secretary-General’s reappointment.  Delivering statements were representatives of Eritrea (on behalf of the African States), Kiribati (on behalf of the Asian States), Slovakia (on behalf of the Eastern European States), Costa Rica (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States), United Kingdom (on behalf of the Western European and other States) and the United States (on behalf of the host country).  Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal, also spoke.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 21 June, to discuss the United Nations global counter-terrorism strategy.

Action — Appointment of United Nations Secretary-General

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), President of the Security Council for June, said that at its meeting held in private on 8 June, the 15-member organ adopted resolution 2580 (2021), recommending to the General Assembly that António Guterres be appointed Secretary-General of the United Nations for a second term, from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2026.  Following the adoption, this information was conveyed to the Assembly President in a letter dated 8 June 2021 (document A/75/912).

He went on to explain that the Presidents of the Assembly and the Council received a communication dated 24 February from the Permanent Mission of Portugal presenting the candidature of Mr. Guterres, who was the only candidate presented by a Member State.  The Council held an informal dialogue with Mr. Guterres on 18 May, which members found “meaningful and productive”, and subsequently adopted resolution 2580 (2021) by acclamation, expressing unconditional support for Mr. Guterres.  In the Council’s view, Mr. Guterres corresponds to the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and a firm commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Acting on the recommendation of the Security Council, the General Assembly then adopted by acclamation a resolution, submitted by its President (document A/75/L.100), appointing António Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations for a second term, beginning on 1 January 2022 and ending on 31 December 2026.

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, after taking the oath of office, said:  “I find myself experiencing a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts.  I am deeply honoured and grateful for the trust you have placed in me to serve as the Secretary-General of the United Nations for a second term.”  Calling himself “a committed multilateralist” and “a proud Portuguese”, he said he is aware of the immense responsibilities entrusted to him at such a critical moment in history and at the cusp of a new era.  History can go either way: breakdown and perpetual crisis or breakthrough and prospect of a greener, safer and better future for all.  “I pledge to you that I will do everything in my power during my second term in office to contribute to the positive, breakthrough scenario,” he declared.

The last 18 months have been unprecedented, with the COVID-19 pandemic revealing the cracks in society, he warned.  Millions of families lost their loved ones, 114 million jobs have been lost, more than 55 per cent of the world’s population is left without any form of social protection, and poverty has risen for the first time in 20 years.  Citing other global challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, growing inequalities, a decline in human rights and a widening digital divide, he pointed out that implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals has seen a setback.  His strategic vision outlines priorities during his second term, he said.

Stressing that the Organization must consolidate the current reforms, build on their results and continue to develop new work methods to be able to deliver to the world, he said:  “A United Nations 2.0” must accelerate transformation through a quintet of change — better data, analysis and communications, innovation and digital transformation, strategic foresight, stronger performance and results orientation and a work culture that reduces unnecessary bureaucracy and fosters collaboration.  Equally, what is needed is a much more aligned and integrated United Nations that works seamlessly across its pillars of work, as well as an institution that is transparent and accountable.

Citing the words of Sophocles that “trust dies but mistrust blossoms”, he pledged that he would give his all to ensure the blossoming of trust between and among nations, large and small, to build bridges and to engage relentlessly in confidence-building.  The Secretary-General alone neither has all the answers nor seeks to impose his views.  Rather, the Secretary-General supports Member States and relevant stakeholders to lead the necessary changes, fully using the unique convening role of the United Nations and working as a mediator, a bridge and trust-builder — and an honest broker to help find solutions that benefit everyone involved.  The Secretary-General must feel every day the acute responsibilities of the office, guided by the Charter and making human dignity and peace with nature — including for future generations — the core of common work and endeavour.  “It is my intention to serve with humility […] in the spirit of building trust and inspiring hope.  This is our common mission,” he said.

VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, said he has confidence that Mr. Guterres, as the world’s top diplomat and advocate, will continue to lead the United Nations with sincerity and integrity.  “To your credit, you have sought to bring this Organization closer to the peoples it serves and their needs,” he said, noting that when setting out his vision for his second term, recovery from the pandemic was fittingly first on the list.  In the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations, Member States reaffirmed the necessity of multilateralism as the international community builds back better for a more equal, more resilient and more sustainable planet.  As the world begins to turn a corner towards recovery, he said he has no doubt Mr. Guterres will ensure that the United Nations is positioned to foster connections and collaboration “to strengthen our weakest link” and leave no one behind.  As the interconnectivity among peoples and counties continues to increase, so grows the need for a multilateral system that is fit for purpose, he stressed, welcoming the strong universal support from Member States for his reappointment.

The representative of Eritrea, speaking for the African States, welcomed the United Nations commitment — under the Secretary-General’s leadership — to working closely with African countries on vaccine roll-out through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) mechanism.  Noting the egregiously uneven distribution of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the world, she called for a fair, equitable dissemination that prioritizes people over profit, praising the Secretary-General’s vocal support of patent suspension and technology transfer relating to these vaccines.  She also called on the United Nations to increase its efforts to ease the pandemic’s economic and social fallout by seeking debt relief for African countries and a new allocation of special drawing rights at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

She also urged the Secretary-General to dedicate his tenure to working with the African Union on both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063, calling for increased cooperation and collaboration between these two organizations, along with regional economic communities and mechanisms, to advance peace and sustainable development on the continent.  A strong United Nations is impossible unless Africa meaningfully participates in its decision-making, she added.

The representative of Kiribati, speaking for Asia Pacific States, said the selection of a Secretary-General is not only important for the Organization but also for its 193 Member States and the 7.8 billion people who call this planet “home” for themselves, their children and succeeding generations.  Thankfully, this task was simple, and the Secretary-General’s sole candidature serves as a clear indication that he enjoys the full trust and confidence of the entire United Nations membership during these “unprecedentedly difficult and challenging times”.

The representative of Slovakia, speaking for the Eastern European States and highlighting the transparent, inclusive process used to select the Secretary-General, expressed commitment to exploring ways to enhance this undertaking by promoting gender equality and equitable geographic representation.  The Secretary-General has demonstrated his respect for the values and principles enshrined in the Charter over the past four-and-a-half years, leading the international community to overcome challenges imposed by conflict, natural disaster and climate change, as well as economic, food, social and health crises.  He praised the Secretary-General’s personal engagement in conflict prevention — focusing on “diplomacy for peace” — and efforts demonstrating to the world that “multilateralism matters”.

The representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States, expressed confidence that the Secretary-General’s leadership in the second term “will bring us even closer to realizing the ideals enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations”.  His delegation looks forward to five more years of reform, innovation, delivery and results.  From steadfast commitment to the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change, to calls for equitable vaccine distribution, universal health coverage and expanded parity of female representation in the Secretariat, “you have been indispensable in crafting a United Nations prepared for the twenty-first century,” he said to the Secretary-General, welcoming his vision of a more transparent, accountable and unified “UN 2.0.”

The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking on behalf of the Western European and other States, said that the last five years were framed by three global challenges — rising humanitarian needs, COVID-19 and climate change — all against the backdrop of difficult international relations.  Mr. Guterres met the moment, leading efforts to resolve and prevent conflicts and issuing a clarion call for bolder action to address climate change, among other achievements.  The complexity of these issues requires more coherent responses.  Mr. Guterres is “the right person for the job”, she said, expressing confidence in his skills, ability, commitment and vision towards integrating the three United Nations pillars:  peace and security, development and human rights.

The representative of the United States, speaking for the host country, said the Secretary-General has proven his capable leadership in a demanding role and welcomed further collaboration with him.  The Secretary-General has again “been charged with the gravest of responsibilities,” demonstrated by the serious challenges posed by the climate crisis, imperilled human rights, mass hunger, increased humanitarian needs and a global pandemic.  Expressing hope that the next five years will be more peaceful, secure and prosperous than the last, he stated that achieving this difficult task will require greater partnership with civil society and the private sector, along with dedication to purpose and results-based accountability.

MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA, President of Portugal, said that his country submitted the Secretary-General’s name five years ago for a simple reason:  “the strong conviction that António Guterres is particularly suited for the job.”  The Secretary-General’s commitment to effective, efficient multilateralism is complemented by his compassion, which compels him “to put people at the very centre of his action”.  Recalling the work the United Nations has undertaken during his tenure — needed reforms, the representation of women, youth empowerment, the pandemic and climate action — he said the Secretary-General’s persistence, boldness, fairness and spirit of solidarity will be instrumental over the next five years.

Myanmar

VOLKAN BOZKIR (Turkey), President of the General Assembly, said political turmoil has given way to an increasingly dire situation in Myanmar, where civil rule has collapsed, people are subject to arbitrary detention, the military carries out violence against civilians and humanitarian needs are growing.  Communities are being uprooted as tens of thousands flee violence, humanitarian access remains restricted in all conflict-affected areas and many civilians are in acute need of food, shelter and sanitation facilities.  He questioned how the spread of COVID-19 in Myanmar can be prevented if the people cannot safely socially distance, wash their hands and be vaccinated.

This is not just a crisis for the people of Myanmar, he stressed, highlighting the 1 million Rohingya sheltering in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, and commending that country for helping its neighbours in their “darkest hour.”  Recalling a visit to that city marked by driving rain, he said the effects of extreme weather on the Rohingya cannot be underestimated, as Myanmar’s rainy season begins.  While voluntary, dignified and safe return for these individuals is the ultimate goal, conditions in Myanmar must first improve.  Welcoming the united voice of the Security Council and the engagement of regional organizations to that end, he called on the international community to stand united to support the people of Myanmar and expressed hope that the draft resolution will be adopted by consensus.

The representative of Liechtenstein, introducing the draft resolution titled “The situation in Myanmar” (document A/75/L.85/Rev.1), said conditions in the country continue to deteriorate, as democratic transition has been reversed, peaceful protestors have been killed and political dissent has been stifled by a military crackdown.  “There is a real and present danger of full-fledged civil war,” he emphasized.  The draft resolution — a product of lengthy consultations — supports, complements and strengthens efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to bring Myanmar back on the path to democracy.  It condemns the use of lethal force by the armed forces of Myanmar, affirms the General Assembly’s support for the population and seeks accountability for crimes against the same, including the Rohingya.  Stressing that the people of Myanmar deserve the Assembly’s full support in their struggle for a peaceful, democratic future, he said that the resolution aims to strengthen the efforts of ASEAN and the United Nations to that end.

The representative of Iran, speaking in explanation of vote, expressed concern over the crisis facing Rohingya Muslims, calling on national authorities to uphold their responsibility to this population and ensure the voluntary, sustainable return of internally displaced persons and refugees.  Further, those responsible for brutal acts and crimes against the Rohingya must be held accountable.  He said that Iran will abstain from the vote because the draft resolution fails to adequately address the plight of Rohingya Muslims.

The representative of Egypt stressed the need to ensure the safe, sustained repatriation of the Rohingya and protect that population’s fundamental rights.  She urged, however, that the General Assembly consider how today’s draft resolution can help the current situation and said Egypt will abstain from the vote due to the unclear link between the agenda item under which the resolution falls and the current crisis.

The representative of Thailand, highlighting the close link between the peace, stability and prosperity of Myanmar and his own country, said that, while Myanmar’s future must be decided by its people, the international community can play a role in creating conditions conducive to dialogue.  Thailand will abstain from the vote, however, because the General Assembly was not able to reach consensus on this resolution.

The representative of Liechtenstein then asked for clarification on who requested a recorded vote, to which the Assembly President answered that it was Belarus.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 119 in favour to 1 against (Belarus), with 36 abstentions.

By its terms, the General Assembly called on the armed forces of Myanmar to respect the will of its people — as freely expressed by the results of the general election held on 8 November 2020 — to end the state of emergency, respect all human rights of the population and to allow sustained democratic transition, including the opening of a democratically elected parliament and bringing all national institutions under a fully inclusive civilian Government.  The Assembly further called on the armed forces to immediately and unconditionally release President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and all others who have been arbitrarily detained, charged or arrested.

The text also had the General Assembly call on the armed forces of Myanmar to engage constructively with ASEAN to realize an inclusive, peaceful dialogue among all stakeholders through a political process led and owned by the people of Myanmar.  Pursuant to the resolution, the armed forces must also immediately cease all violence against peaceful demonstrators and end certain civil restrictions.  Further, they must facilitate a visit by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar and provide safe, unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need.  The General Assembly additionally called on all Member States to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar.

The representative of Belarus said his delegation voted against this politically motivated country-specific resolution, stressing that in no way will Belarus become an obstacle to international efforts to resolve the crisis in Myanmar.  Regrettably, the spirit of multilateralism is lacking in this document.  Country-specific resolutions are always biased and one-sided — and today’s text is no exception.  The process was rushed and he expressed disappointment at the closed nature of negotiations, emphasizing that Belarus was never consulted, a fact he characterized as “open discrimination”.  He asked rhetorically where pluralism and multilateralism had been demonstrated, noting that today’s meeting was held in place of a high-level meeting on middle-income countries in which the Foreign Minister of Belarus was due to address.  This is unacceptable, he said.

The representative of Bangladesh said today’s resolution is of utmost importance to her country, which shares borders with Myanmar.  Stability in Myanmar is critically important for finding a durable solution for the 1 million Rohingya hosted by Bangladesh who are victims of atrocity crimes.  Her delegation abstained as the resolution fell short of its expectations, failing to recognize the urgent need to create conditions for the safe, voluntary and sustainable return of the Rohingyas.  “We do not see our key priorities reflected in the resolution, especially in the operative part,” she asserted.  Any resolution on Myanmar will remain incomplete if it does not recognize the root causes of the crisis and make recommendations to address them.  

She said the international community’s failure to address the root causes of the crisis, even after the ethnic cleansing in 2017, has led to a culture of impunity in Myanmar.  “We see this playing out now for other minorities as well,” she added.   The resolution calls for implementation of the five-point consensus reached at the ASEAN leaders’ summit, which does not address the issue of repatriation.  Myanmar’s military chief, who attended that meeting, has ruled out the possibility of any policy reforms that would ensure the safe return of the Rohingyas, making it all the more important for today’s resolution to stress the need for creating a conducive environment for return.  Expressing disappointment, she said today’s text deviates from other resolutions and outcomes adopted in the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian), the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.

The representative of Malaysia expressed grave concern over the situation in Myanmar following the 1 February military takeover.  The continued use of lethal violence against unarmed civilians is unacceptable under any circumstances, he said, noting that Malaysia has consistently called on all parties to exercise utmost restraint to stop the deplorable situation immediately.  Although the core group tabling the resolution could have held more inclusive meetings, ASEAN proposals were taken on board.  The resolution is not perfect — but it is timely.  Malaysia takes the position of constructive engagement with Myanmar, rather than isolating the country, and advocated for its accession to ASEAN in 1997.  His delegation’s vote was based on that approach, he explained.

The representative of India, noting that his country has direct stakes in the maintenance of peace and stability in Myanmar, said its diplomatic engagements are aimed at upholding the ASEAN five-point consensus.  India has strongly condemned the use of violence, urging maximum restraint, and will continue to engage with measures to accelerate democratic transition in Myanmar.  On the repatriation of persons displaced from Rakhine state, India has called for a balanced and constructive approach, he said, expressing support for people on the ground in Cox’s Bazar and in Rakhine.  Their safe and speedy and sustainable repatriation from Bangladesh to Rakhine must be expedited. 

During discussions on the text, India had hoped to find a pragmatic way forward, he said, however its views are not reflected in the draft.  A consultative approach involving neighbouring countries and the region remains important.  The lack of support from all neighbouring countries — and several countries in the region itself — for today’s text should serve as an “eye opener” to those who chose to pursue a hasty course of action.  Its tabling was not conducive to aiding joint efforts for strengthening the democratic process in Myanmar.  For these reasons, India abstained from the vote.

The representative of China said his country has worked with Myanmar’s parties and constructively participated in Security Council discussions and joined consensus.  He expressed hope that Myanmar’s parties will resolve their differences through dialogue, avoid a recurrence of violence, restore social stability and relaunch the domestic transition.  Describing the ASEAN delegation’s visit to Myanmar as an important step towards implementing the five-point consensus, he said Beijing is in close communication and has reached broad consensus with the regional bloc.  China supports ASEAN in playing a constructive role in handling Myanmar’s domestic issues.  China will maintain its close communications with ASEAN and play a constructive role “in its own way”.  Myanmar’s current issues are essentially domestic questions.  Whether they are resolved properly depends on the country itself.  Sanctions often aggravate and harm the people of Myanmar, he said, urging Member States to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar and to avoid inappropriate interventions.  China opposes country-specific resolutions as they lack transparency and inclusivity, he explained.  As such, his delegation abstained from the vote.

The representative of Myanmar said his country voted in favour of the resolution from a belief that the text will contribute to pressuring the military to cease its inhumane acts and to consolidating the people’s efforts to restore democracy in Myanmar.  He expressed regret, however, that it fell short of the people’s expectations by not imposing an arms embargo to prevent the military from killing civilians and peaceful protestors with imported weapons.  He called on all Member States to immediately stop selling arms to the “murderous military,” as such action can be seen as aiding and abetting crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide.

Expressing disappointment that it took three months for the Assembly to adopt today’s watered-down resolution, he recalled that on 26 February — “from this very seat” — he had appealed for the international community to take the strongest possible action to immediately end the military coup.  One hundred days later, almost 900 people — including a 7-year-old girl — have been murdered.  The international community could have prevented more than 800 civilian deaths if it had acted sooner.  Stressing that no State should support the military — which would encourage further violence against civilians — he urged strong, decisive action from the international community to save lives and called on the Security Council to take the strongest action against the military and the State Administration Council without further delay.

The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, explaining his country’s abstention from the vote, welcomed the resolution’s support for ASEAN’s efforts but stated nonetheless that some wording does not comport with the General Assembly’s previous practice.

The representative of Singapore opposed the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians, calling on the military authorities to stop the violence and release all political detainees.  He urged all parties to refrain from further escalating tensions and instead to engage in meaningful dialogue.  Singapore voted in favour of the resolution because it recognizes the central role of ASEAN, he explained.

The representative of Brunei Darussalam said her country shares the international community’s concern about the situation in Myanmar, especially over civilian fatalities and the escalation of violence.  Welcoming the resolution’s support for ASEAN, she said the regional bloc will continue its work to facilitate a peaceful solution.

the representative of Viet Nam, expressing concern over recent clashes across Myanmar, stressed that people must be protected from the threat of an all-out civil war and called on all parties to end the violence and engage in dialogue.  While today’s resolution is not perfect, Viet Nam voted in favour of the text to express its strong commitment to facilitating de-escalation and dialogue.

The representative of Algeria expressed regret that more efforts were not made towards achieving consensus, which would have sent a positive signal.  Joining others in expressing solidarity with the people of Myanmar and calling for restraint to pave the way for a democratic solution, she said Algeria nevertheless abstained because of its principled position against the General Assembly adopting country-specific resolutions.  Further, the resolution should have afforded greater recognition to the fact that regional organizations are well-placed to understand the root causes of conflict in their own areas.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation was puzzled by the circulation of the text.  Tabling a country-specific resolution in the General Assembly erodes the division of labour among United Nations organs, he explained, noting that the situation in Myanmar is already on the Security Council agenda and that just this morning, the Council held its latest meeting on Myanmar.  The text reflects the lack of desire by the sponsors to generate balanced content which addresses the complexity of the situation in Myanmar.  The text “planted division” in the Assembly and the Russian Federation therefore was unable to support it.

The representative of Saidi Arabia said his delegation abstained as the resolution ignored his delegation’s request for sponsors to include a clear reference to the plight of Rohingya refugees in the operative paragraphs.

The representative of Cambodia said his delegation abstained from the vote; however, it joined others in expressing support for ASEAN efforts, including the five-point consensus.

The representative of Iraq said her delegation voted in favour of the resolution, however the text does not accurately describe the situation facing Rohingyas on the ground.  Her delegation disassociated from preambular paragraph 19.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates said her delegation also abstained because certain operative paragraphs did not sufficiently address the Rohingya issue.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica), speaking in a general statement, said 137 days have passed since a coup wrested control from Myanmar’s democratically elected Government.  Yet, the General Assembly is only now taking measures.  “It is in no one’s interest that this junta endures,” she said, which is why Costa Rica voted for the resolution.  She urged an immediate suspension to the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer of all weapons and ammunition to the junta, which it uses to “fire bullets into children’s eyes”, she said.  “Continuing to supply weapons to the junta is like giving them a blank check for violence.”   

She advocated for accountability for all grave human rights violations in Myanmar, calling impunity “a pernicious virus”.  The United Nations Special Envoy must be granted immediate entry into the country, without obstruction.  She reemphasized the role of youth in defending Myanmar’s democracy, stressing that millions of people — in all their ethnic, religious and regional diversity — are courageously challenging the military coup as it attempts to steal their democratic future.  “The junta is not the face of Myanmar,” she assured.  “It is illegitimate in its origin, form and function.”  She called for immediate and decisive action against it, stressing that the international community must demonstrate, through resolutions such as today’s, that “juntas cannot assault, arrest and attack their way into legitimacy”.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), condemning the military’s use of lethal force against civilians, called for the immediate release of those arbitrarily detained, the ending of the state of emergency, the restoration of the rule of law and the facilitation of unimpeded humanitarian access.  He expressed regret that the resolution was not adopted without a vote at the behest of Belarus — “the lonely red dot on the screen in front of us” — stressing that “all dictatorships should and will eventually feel lonely in this Hall”.  Noting that the Security Council cannot act on this issue due to opposition by the Russian Federation, he expressed hope that today’s resolution will facilitate a timely response by the international community.

JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic) expressed concern over the arbitrary detention of political officials and members of the press and the continued attacks on civilians.  The United Nations should not have taken so long to respond, she emphasized, but today’s resolution “amends the long silence to a certain extent”.  She called on the international community to work towards a viable solution that ends repression and violence against civilians and supports the people’s pursuit of democratic governance in Myanmar.

ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada), pointing out that attacks on civilians are not matters pertaining to just one country but to the entirety of the United Nations membership, stated that it is neither legally nor politically correct to believe that the principle of sovereignty nullifies all others of democracy and humanitarian law.  Nevertheless, the United Nations continues to hear that national sovereignty has absolute value — exemplified today by Belarus — and that this means that Member States have nothing to say about human rights.  He spotlighted, however, that important international laws have been passed to ensure the existence of such rights and, while the United Nations Charter speaks of the principle of sovereignty, it does not say that it “trumps every other value that we have as an Assembly”.

“We must try to respect the dignity of difference among us,” he said, but the international community must also respect the universality of what it means to have rights as a human being, which the Organization has championed over its 75 years of existence.  Recalling atrocities in Canada mentioned by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, he said that the existence of this shameful past does not preclude Canada from saying today that “we renew our commitment to human rights and reconciliation”.  The armed forces of Myanmar obliterated the results of an election, jailed the opposition and killed hundreds of civilians.  The international community must aspire to achieve greater unity, he stressed, not to interfere in States’ internal affairs, but to save lives, stop killings and bring countries to peace.

BAE JONGIN (Republic of Korea), welcoming the resolution’s adoption, expressed hope that the strong message sent by an overwhelming majority today will complement the Security Council’s unified statements on the matter.  He also expressed hope that the United Nations will continue to support democratic transition in Myanmar.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) noted that the resolution adopted by an overwhelming number of votes today was the product of long consultations, during which Japan insisted that the text reflect regional voices, particularly that of ASEAN.  Expressing regret that the final draft was put to a vote, he said that its adoption is nevertheless a signal of the international community’s condemnation of the acts of Myanmar’s armed forces, who must not misjudge this point.

For information media. Not an official record.