HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION IN MYANMAR
On February 1, 2021, Myanmar’s military staged a coup to depose the government formed by the
National League for Democracy (NLD), which had come to power after winning national elections
in November 2020. There have been mass protests against the junta and for the restoration of
democracy. Hundreds of people have been killed in these protests. There have been appeals from
the citizens to the international community for the ‘Responsibility to Protect.’ As per this, the
international must do everything possible to defend the lives of innocent people in governments that
are either incapable or unwilling to do so, or are actively assaulting them.
The UN has publicly condemned the military junta and realises that there has to be a prominent
increase in humanitarian aid and it should be distributed through International NGOs and Civil
Society Organisations on the ground. Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur said that “the
responsibility to protect meant going in to protect, in the best way possible, which has the highest
impact on the junta, but more importantly the least negative impact on the people of Myanmar.” 1 He
further said that the Responsibility to Protect also extends to sheltering refugees who are fleeing for
their lives. The neighbouring countries need to protect and provide for them and the international
community needs to assist the countries.
To avoid appearing to recognise the military junta's authority, the UN refers to them as "de facto
authorities" and limits its involvement with army generals. This nonrecognition sends a strong
message to the world community that the junta's unlawful takeover of power will not be tolerated. It
also raises pressure on the junta to seek a peaceful end to the issue by isolating it. The Security
Council has called for restraint and dialogue. However, it has failed to explicitly call for a reversal
of the coup, preferring instead to push for the release of the previous political leadership. 2 It has also
refused to emphasise the necessity of accountability or to support the concept of retaliating if the
junta does not comply with its requests. There have been considerable calls for the Security Council
to take more forceful measures, including an arms embargo, targeted sanctions, and a referral to the
International Criminal Court, however, they are unlikely to be passed as they might be vetoed by
Russia and China.
1 (2021). MYANMAR CRISIS: Stand with the people and protect them, urges UN rights expert. UN News.
2 Lilly, D. (2021). The UN’s Response to the Human Rights Crisis after the Coup in Myanmar: Destined to Fail?
International Peace Institute. 10. https://www.ipinst.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/The-UNs-Response-Coup-in-
In an ASEAN summit on April 24 th , a five-point consensus plan to address the crisis was laid “(1) an
immediate cessation of violence; (2) constructive dialogue among all parties to seek a peaceful
solution; (3) the appointment of a special envoy to facilitate mediation of the dialogue process; (4)
provision of humanitarian assistance through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian
Assistance on Disaster Management (5) a visit to Myanmar by the special envoy and delegation to
meet with all parties concerned.” 3 There was no time frame adopted yet it was appreciated as an
initiative toward a political solution to the crisis.
Since 2006, the situation in Myanmar has been on the Security Council's agenda. The council, on
the other hand, has never passed a resolution on Myanmar due to resistance from China and Russia
who are the permanent members. The UN's ability to monitor, document, report, and evaluate
human rights violations has not kept pace with the problem's magnitude. The UN's reaction, both as
an international organisation and as a system of operational bodies, has been tragically inadequate
in comparison to the scope and severity of human rights atrocities occurring in Myanmar.
India condemned the violence in Myanmar, and Mr. Tirumurti, India’s permanent representative to
the UN remarked that for the situation to be resolved peacefully, there was a need for “greater
engagement” with Myanmar. 4 It was a message to the US-led Western bloc from India, that putting
more sanctions on Myanmar will not reverse the current crisis. Previously too, when the
international community strongly condemned the brutal crackdown by Myanmar’s junta and called
for rigid sanctions, India consistently maintained that all initiatives ‘should be forward-looking,
non-condemnatory and seek to engage the Government of Myanmar in a non-intrusive and