Briefing Paper: The response so far of United Nations political bodies to the unlawful military coup in Myanmar

September 9th, 2021  •  Category Briefings

Since the 1 February 2021 coup in Myanmar, three political bodies of the UN have discussed the situation and passed resolutions or adopted statements that include expressions of support for democratic processes, an end to violence and calls for the immediate release of political detainees. However, to date there have been no legally enforceable actions.

The New York-based UN Security Council has held formal and informal meetings on Myanmar but has not exercised the significant powers available to it to address the impunity enjoyed by the military and to stop the flow of weapons and cash to it.

Also in New York, in June the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that called for the military to respect the results of the November 2020 general elections, release political detainees and cease violence against protestors. It also called upon States to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar. Although not legally binding, the resolution is a politically significant international expression against the coup.

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has passed three resolutions on Myanmar since the coup. Two called for the coup to be reversed through restoration of the elected government.  A third resolution on the human rights of Rohingya and other minorities was also adopted, although it contained few specific references to the coup. Human Rights Council resolutions are not legally binding.


SAC-M has issued this briefing paper ahead of the start of the 48th session of UN Human Rights Council on Monday 13 September and the start of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday 14 September.