The Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, has been at war continuously for 70 years but it has never fought against a foreign enemy. Its endless wars have been waged against the people of Myanmar. For decades, it has used an arsenal of military-grade weapons to suppress, terrorise and commit atrocities against the Myanmar population. Throughout protracted civil wars with Myanmar’s many Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs), the Tatmadaw has developed a brutal method of counterinsurgency that targets the civilian population to deprive enemy combatants of recruits, resources, shelter and information (the Tatmadaw’s ‘Four Cuts Strategy’). Typical Tatmadaw operations in ethnic areas involve indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian property, by battalions armed with a range of light and heavy weaponry including assault rifles, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and artillery, at times including bombing from aircraft, resulting in substantial loss of life, mass displacement, and destruction of entire villages. The Tatmadaw also uses such weapons to suppress democratic movements. Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were killed by soldiers during the August 1988 uprising and more than 1,100 protesters and bystanders across the country have been killed so far in ongoing repression of the democracy movement since the military coup began on 1 February 2021.
In the past ten years, under the leadership of Min Aung Hlaing, the Tatmadaw has spent billions of US dollars upgrading its arms and acquiring weapons systems including battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers, surface to air missiles, attack helicopters, jet fighters, air to air missiles, rocket systems, navy boats, surveillance technology and drones. Since 2011 advanced weapons have been deployed and used against civilians in Kachin, Shan, Rakhine, Chin and Karen states. Since the February 2021 coup, the junta’s forces have launched airstrikes in Karen and Kachin states and massacred groups of civilians trying to defend their homes in Chin, Karenni, Mon, Karen and Kachin states, as well as in cities, towns and villages in central Myanmar including Bago, Sagaing, Magway and Yangon regions. The Tatmadaw’s tactics, used for decades against Myanmar’s ethnic nationalities, are now being used against the entire population. The people of Myanmar are facing the brutal assault of a fully equipped, armed and trained military. In 2018 and again in 2019, the UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar called for the UN Security Council to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar with a mechanism for monitoring and enforcing implementation. That call remains urgent.
More than 40 states have imposed arms embargos on Myanmar. Some arms embargos have been in place since the 1990s, while many more have been imposed since the February 2021 coup (see list below). Reflecting global momentum for greater restrictions to be applied on weapons supplies to Myanmar, in June 2021 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution (A/RES/75/287) calling on all Member States to “prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar”. In consideration of the challenges posed by the complex current global political environment, the wording in this resolution indicates that UN Member States largely (119 votes in favour to one against) support an arm embargo as a tool to counter the Tatmadaw’s continued disregard for principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law, and for the lives of the people of Myanmar.
The General Assembly resolution is a significant political expression of international condemnation of the coup. However, the resolution is not legally binding. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, previous and current United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, and over one hundred international and Myanmar non-governmental organisations, a formal global arms embargo has not been achieved yet, and multiple states continue to trade arms with the Tatmadaw. These are also listed below. SAC-M continues to call on the United Nations Security Council to lead a ‘global three cuts strategy’ by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar with a mechanism to monitor and enforce it.
In this record of actions, SAC-M intends to provide a list of the existing measures that states have been taken to prevent the sale of arms and dual-use equipment and technology to the Tatmadaw. The record also provides a list of states that continue to arm the Tatmadaw with a view to advocate for an immediate termination of all agreements and engagements providing the Tatmadaw with military or dual-use equipment. The record will be updated periodically.
SAC-M’s intention is to report publicly in the most accurate manner the number and extent of measures already taken and the type and source of ongoing arms engagements. Sources on the latter issue in particular are scarce, however, with states and private companies failing to indicate transparently the extent of ongoing arms deals. Therefore, this record may not fully reflect the extent of the arms trade. If any action has been left out or is not reflected in a comprehensive and fully accurate manner, SAC-M invites and welcomes dialogue and information sharing by interested parties.
RECORD OF ACTIONS TAKEN BY STATES SINCE FEBRUARY 2021
|8 March 2021||United States of America||The U.S. government maintains a suspension of all licenses and other approvals to export/transfer defense articles or services to Myanmar under section 38 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. sec. 2778, as implemented by 22 C.F.R 126.1).||https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/03/08/2021-04745/burma-implementation-of-sanctions||The United States has had sanctions imposed on Myanmar since the ‘90s. The latest update is of 8 March 2021.|
|12 March 2021||South Korea||According to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Korean government will suspend new exchanges and cooperation in the field of defense and security with Myanmar, it will not permit export of military supplies to Myanmar, and it will strictly control export of dual-use items.||https://www.mofa.go.kr/eng/brd/m_5676/view.do?seq=321574&srchFr=&srchTo=&srchWord=&srchTp=&multi_itm_seq=0&itm_seq_1=0&itm_seq_2=0&company_cd=&company_nm=&page=13&titleNm=||The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that South Korea had not had any export of military supplies to Myanmar since January 2019.|
|23 April 2021||European Union||The European Council extended the existing embargo on arms and equipment that can be used for internal repression for one year. In addition, it prohibited the export of dual-use goods for use by the military and border guard police and imposed restrictions on the export of equipment for monitoring communications that might be used for internal repression. The European Council also prohibited the provision of military training to and military cooperation with the Myanmar/Burma army.||https://www.sipri.org/databases/embargoes/eu_arms_embargoes/myanmar||The EU has maintained an arms embargo on Burma in various forms since the early 1990s.
State members of the European Union are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
|23 April 2021||Republic of North Macedonia||Aligned with EU sanctions.||https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/05/18/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-of-certain-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-against-myanmar-burma/|
|23 April 2021||Montenegro||Aligned with EU sanctions.||https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/05/18/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-of-certain-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-against-myanmar-burma/|
|23 April 2021||Albania||Aligned with EU sanctions.||https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2020/05/18/declaration-by-the-high-representative-on-behalf-of-the-eu-on-the-alignment-of-certain-countries-concerning-restrictive-measures-against-myanmar-burma/|
|23 April 2021||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Aligned with EU sanctions.|
|23 April 2021||Iceland||Aligned with EU sanctions.|
|23 April 2021||Liechtenstein||Aligned with EU sanctions.|
|23 April 2021||Norway||Aligned with EU sanctions.|
|23 April 2021||Republic of Moldova||Aligned with EU sanctions.|
|23 April 2021||Armenia||Aligned with EU sanctions.|
|29 April 2021||United Kingdom||Sanctions impose trade prohibitions on military goods and military technology, dual-use goods and technology, goods and technology which might be used for internal repression, goods and technology which might be used for the monitoring and interception of telecommunications, provision of interception and monitoring services to or for the benefit of the Government of Myanmar, and provision of technical assistance, armed personnel, financial services or funds or associated brokering services to or for the benefit of the Tatmadaw.||https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/myanmar-sanctions-guidance||These regulations have replaced The Burma (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.|
|5 May 2021||G7 summit of foreign ministers||Expressed commitment to continuing to prevent the supply, sale or transfer of all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment to Myanmar and the supply of technical cooperation.||https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/983631/G7-foreign-and-development-ministers-meeting-communique-london-5-may-2021.pdf||Among the G7 members, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union, only Japan lacks specific legislation on arms embargo toward Myanmar. With the inclusion in the official communique of the commitment to prevent supply, sale, and transfer of weapons and other equipment, it is expected that Japan will honor it.|
|14 May 2021||Canada||Among other sanctions, Canada has imposed an arms embargo, including prohibitions on exporting and importing arms and related material to and from Myanmar, on communicating technical data related to military activities or arms and related material, and on financial services related to military activities or arms and related material.||https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/sanctions/myanmar.aspx?lang=eng||An arm embargo has been in place since 13 December 2007. The latest update of these measures is from 14 May 2021.|
|19 May 2021||Switzerland||Measures include bans on armaments and items of repression; prohibitions on provision of equipment, technology and software used for surveillance purposes; prohibition on dual-use goods if the goods are intended for military purposes or military end-users.||https://www.seco.admin.ch/seco/de/home/Aussenwirtschaftspolitik_Wirtschaftliche_Zusammenarbeit/Wirtschaftsbeziehungen/exportkontrollen-und-sanktionen/sanktionen-embargos/sanktionsmassnahmen/massnahmen-gegenueber-myanmar--burma-.html||Switzerland imposed an arms embargo in May 2000. The latest update to the ordinance is from 19 May 2021, which entered into force on 15 June.|
|31 January 2023||Canda||Canada is imposing a new prohibition on the export, sale, supply or shipment of aviation fuel to the Myanmar military regime.|
RECORD OF STATES AND COMPANIES STILL PROVIDING MILITARY EQUIPMENT TO TATMADAW AFTER FEBRUARY 2021
This record is based on the findings of the investigations carried out by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar as well as open source information, including analysis of weapons displayed during military parades or in combat settings. However, the exact extent of collaboration between the junta in Myanmar and other states, in terms of type, quantity, and costs of military equipment, remain unknown. Despite reports indicating that the Tatmadaw has the capacity to manufacture light arms and ammunition locally, the junta still has to rely on external actors, states or private companies, to obtain military equipment, such as manned or unmanned aircrafts, heavy weapons, and materials for the overall defense industry, and to maintain its comparative advantage in the field compared to EAOs and other entities.
Therefore, the SAC-M three cuts approach, and specifically cutting the weapons, remains of critical importance to prevent consolidation of the coup and the commission of further egregious violations of international law by the Tatmadaw.
|STATE||SUPPLIER||TYPE OF SUPPLIER||EQUIPMENT||COMMENT|
|China||Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)|
China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC)
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC)
China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC)
China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO)
|State-owned enterprises||Armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, military transport aircraft, missile systems, drones||China abstained from voting on GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021.|
|Russian Federation||Irkutsk Corporation, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)|
|State-owned enterprises||Combat aircraft, drones, missile defence system||Russian officials confirmed on 25 August 2021 that they will provide the Myanmar junta with military equipment as per previous agreements. Russia abstained from voting on GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021.|
|North Korea||Korea Mining Development Trading|
|State-owned enterprises||Materials for defence industry||North Korea did not cast a vote on GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021.|
|Israel||Elbit Systems Ltd.||Private company||Spare parts for Skylark drones||Israel voted in favour of GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021.|
|Belarus||State Authority for Military Industry||State-owned enterprise||Mobile air defence system||The latest available information on trades between Myanmar and Belarus date back to 2016. However, Belarus was the only State voting against GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021.|
|India||Bharat Dynamics Limited|
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL)
Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL)
|State-owned enterprises||Combat aircrafts, Missiles and missile launchers|
Radar technology and system components, remote controlled weapons station
|India abstained from voting on GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021.|
|Ukraine||Malyeshev Plant, Ukrspetsexport and Ukroboronprom|
|State-owned enterprises||Armoured combat vehicles|
Materials for defence industry
|Ukraine voted in favour of GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021. However, deliveries of military equipment have been reported after 1 February 2021.|
|Singapore||Excellence Metal Casting|
STE Global Trading
|Private companies||Materials for defence industry||Singapore voted in favour of GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021.|
|Philippines||Armscor International||Private company||Small arms||Philippines voted in favour of GA resolution A/RES/75/287 of 18 June 2021.|