December 10, 2021

We, the undersigned 255 civil society organizations, call on all United Nations (UN) agencies, Funds, Programmes and other Entities to cease all forms of cooperation that lend legitimacy to the illegal murderous Myanmar military junta. This includes signing Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) and inviting junta representatives to meetings as the junta continues to callously inflict immense suffering on the people of Myanmar and deepen an already catastrophic human rights and humanitarian crisis.

The UN agencies are, through the signing of the MoUs and other forms of cooperation, providing the military junta legitimacy and a platform to fuel its propaganda machine. Partnering with the junta through an MoU compromises the UN’s ability to promote and protect human rights by emboldening the junta to continue its grave human rights violations and giving it leverage to advance its craven political and military goals.

The recent decision by the UN General Assembly to reject the military junta’s application for credentials at the UN is a confirmation from the world body that the military junta does not represent Myanmar at the UN. All UN agencies should now accept nominations made by the current UN Permanent Representative, Ambassador U Kyaw Moe Tun appointed by the National Unity Government (NUG), to represent Myanmar in all UN bodies as well as related forums and meetings.

Shockingly, on 17 November, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) co-organized a virtual meeting attended by the military junta. Other UN agencies have hosted summits, meetings, and events attended by the military junta, including the “ITU Digital World 2021”, UNWTO’s “The Future of World Tourism Summit-Ministerial Debate” and UNEP’s “United Nations Biodiversity Conference”.

The UN Charter requires agencies, funds and programmes to advance human rights as a core UN pillar. The UN must not therefore make deals with the devil by pandering to the military junta, at the expense of human rights, in exchange for “access”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) must also guide a rights-based approach in all UN programming, with human rights due diligence and the “do no harm” principle placed at the core of all operations as called for by the UN Secretary-General. This is essential to respecting and protecting the human rights guaranteed to the people of Myanmar in line with the Secretary-General’s “Call to Action for Human Rights”.

The Myanmar military junta has been designated a terrorist organization under Myanmar’s national law by the duly elected government. Every day it commits acts of terrorism as defined by international experts on Myanmar. Since the attempted coup on 1 February, 2021, the Myanmar military has killed over 1,323 people including around 100 children, and has detained 10,815 people. Since September, Myanmar military has been ferociously and systematically shelling and burning Thantlang, Chin State, burning down over 250 houses. On 5 December, they opened fire and rammed a military vehicle into peaceful protesters, killing five and injuring dozens more in Yangon. These patterns of extreme violence and terrorist acts are being repeated by junta forces across the country. UN agencies espouse their commitment to human rights and the humanitarian principle of ‘Do No Harm’, yet these agencies breach their acclaimed principles of “neutrality and impartiality” when they choose to work with a military junta that continues to commit extreme terrorist acts.

Cooperating with the military junta not only contradicts UN agencies’ obligations to neutrality and upholding human rights, but it is a misguided approach to assisting the people of Myanmar. The junta continues to weaponize and destroy humanitarian aid, arresting and killing those who provide it, and is forcing more and more people into displacement and destitution through continuous attacks on civilians. At the same time, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and World Food Programme have been restricted and blocked from providing lifesaving humanitarian aid, including to Chin and Rohingya people, raising serious questions about the effectiveness of the MoUs.

The UN must learn from its systemic failure during the Rohingya genocide. It must not forget that it failed to stop, mitigate, or sufficiently draw attention to violence that was laid out by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission which concluded that the leaders of the Myanmar military should be investigated and prosecuted for crimes they committed against the Rohingya, including genocide and crimes against humanity. The UN agencies in Myanmar chose to keep quiet about the genocidal atrocities being committed in Rakhine State in the hope of maintaining access and continuing their programs, contributing to a worsening human rights situation in the long term. Such systemic failures by the UN, as detailed in the Rosenthal report, must not continue to be repeated over and over while the people of Myanmar put their lives at risk in defiance of the military junta. The UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar is risking yet another repetition of these systemic failures of the UN in Myanmar, failing to regularly and publicly speak on the situation on the ground. The Resident Coordinator must immediately consult with the NUG and Myanmar civil society in responding to the crisis.

It is imperative to deliver humanitarian aid to those most in need, without placing further risks to human security. The realignment of UN programming forced by the failed coup presents an opportunity to the UN Country Team to develop a new common Human Rights Strategy that identifies Myanmar civil society, ethnic organizations and the NUG – the sole and legitimate government of Myanmar – as key implementing partners. The UN must meet with the NUG and provide cross-border aid through local humanitarian and civil society organizations. Ethnic health organizations and civil society organizations operating in conflict areas as well as newly established networks across the country have the experience and capacity to deliver aid effectively and have gained the confidence of the people and the infrastructure to make this a reality.

The attempted coup has led to the Spring Revolution, a nationwide movement of diverse groups including workers, labor unions, ethnic people, educators, medical professionals, women, LGBTIQ, police, military personnel and civil society to finally free the country from the military’s oppression. The Spring Revolution is succeeding. For nearly eleven months, the junta has been unable to gain control and power over the country. The UN must stand with the people of Myanmar and support their struggle – in solidarity.

In line with the June 2021 UN General Assembly resolution, UN agencies must clearly show support for democracy and the will of the people of Myanmar, and call for the end of the junta’s violence against civilians and peaceful protesters and the immediate release of political prisoners.

The military junta is not a partner to solve the humanitarian crisis, as they are the root cause of this crisis.

The UN must not continue to fail the people of Myanmar but deliver on its human rights obligations as its paramount consideration and on its promise to “Do No Harm’’.

For more information, please contact:

-Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice, info@progressive-voice.org
-Thinzar Shunlei Yi, Action Committee for Democracy Development, acdd.burma@protonmail.com
-Naw Htoo Htoo, Karen Human Rights Group, htoothu@khrg.org
-Nai Aue Mon, Human Rights Foundation of Monland, auemon@rehmonnya.org

Signed by 255 civil society organizations:

8888 Generation (New Zealand)
Action Committee for Democracy Development
Advocates for Public Interest Law
Ah Nah: Conversations with Myanmar Team
Albany Karen community, Albany, NY
All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress
All Burma Democratic Face in New Zealand
America Rohingya Justice Network
American Baptist Churches USA
Anti-Junta Mass Movement Committee
Arakan Institute for Peace and Development
Arakan Rohingya Union
Arizona Kachin Community
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
Asia Democracy Network
Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN)
Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition
Asian Companions Against Brutality
Asian Dignity Initiative
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
Association for Advancing Freedom of Religion or Belief in Vietnam (AAFoRB-Vn)
Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters
Association Suisse-Birmanie
Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
Auckland Kachin Community NZ
Auckland Zomi Community
Backpack Health Workers Team
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
Baptist World Alliance
Blood Money Campaign
Boat People SOS
Burma Action Ireland
Burma Campaign UK
Burma Human Rights Network
Burma Medical Association
Burma Task Force
Burmese American Millennials
Burmese Democratic Forces
Burmese Rohingya Association of North America
Burmese Rohingya Community of Georgia
Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
Burmese Women’s Union
Busan Solidarity Network for Democracy in Myanmar
Bytes For All, Pakistan
Calgary Karen Community Association (CKCA)
California Kachin Community
Campaign for a New Myanmar
Central European Institute of Asian Studies
Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
Chin Community of Auckland
Chin Leaders of Tomorrow (CLT)
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA)
Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam
CRPH Funding Ireland
CRPH/NUG Supporters Ireland
Dalit Foundation
Dallas Kachin Community
Decency & Clarity
Democracy for Myanmar – Working Group (NZ)
Democracy, Peace and Women’s Organization -DPW
Ecumenical Youth Council in Korea
Edmonton Karen Community Youth Organization
Education Community Woorijari Social Cooperation
Educational Initiatives Myanmar
Equality Myanmar
European Karen Network
Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
Florida Kachin Community
Free Burma Action Bay/USA/Global
Free Myanmar Campaign USA/BACI
Freedom for Burma
Freedom, Justice, Equality for Myanmar
Future Light Center
Future Thanlwin
Georgia Kachin Community
Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
Green Party Korea International Committee
Gwanak Education Community MODU
Houston Kachin Community
Human Rights Development for Myanmar
Human Rights Foundation of Monland
IMPARSIAL, Indonesia
Incorporated Organization Shilcheon Bulgyo
Info Birmanie
Initiatives for International Dialogue
Institute for Asian Democracy
Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention (I-GMAP)
International Campaign for the Rohingya
International Child Rights Center (InCRC)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Karen Organisation
International Ministries – American Baptist Foreign Mission Society
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
Iowa Kachin Community
Justice for Myanmar (JFM)
Kachin American Community (Portland – Vancouver)
Kachin Community of Indiana
Kachin Community of USA
Kachin National Organization USA
Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
Karapatan Alliance Philippines
Karen American Association of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Karen Association Ireland
Karen Association of Huron, SD
Karen Community of Akron, OH
Karen Community of Austin, Texas
Karen Community of Canada (KCC)
Karen Community of Czech Republic
Karen Community of Finland
Karen Community of Hamilton
Karen Community of Iowa, IA
Karen Community of Ireland
Karen Community of Israel
Karen Community of Kansas City, KS & MO
Karen Community of Kitchener & Waterloo
Karen Community of Leamington K
Karen Community of Lethbridge
Karen Community of London
Karen Community of Minnesota, MN
Karen Community of Ottawa
Karen Community of Regina
Karen Community of Saskatoon
Karen Community of Thunderbay
Karen Community of Toronto
Karen Community of Windsor
Karen Community of Winnipeg
Karen Community Society of British Columbia (KCSBC)
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
Karen Human Rights Group
Karen Organization of America
Karen Organization of Illinois, IL
Karen Peace Support Network
Karen Rivers Watch
Karen Swedish Community (KCS)
Karen Thai Group
Karen Women’s Organization
Karen Youth Education Pathways
Karen Youth Networks
Karen Youth of Norway
Karen Youth of Toronto
Karen Youth Organization
Karenni Civil Society Network
Karenni Human Rights Group
Karenni National Women’s Organization
Karenni Society New Zealand
Keng Tung Youth
Kentucky Kachin Community
Kijamii Table
Korea Christian Solidarity for Democracy in Myanmar
Korea Karen Organization
Korea Karen Youth Organization
Korean Civil Society in Solidarity with the Rohingya
Korean Civil Society in Support of Democracy in Myanmar
Korean Dentists Association for Healthy Society, Busan-Kyungnam branch
Korean House for International Solidarity
Korean Solidarity for Overseas Community Organization
La Communauté Birmanie de France
LA Rohingya Association
Louisiana Kachin Community
Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), Maldives
Maryland Kachin Community
May 18 Seoul Memorial Society
Michigan Kachin Community
Migrant Health Association in Korea WeFriends
MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Democratic Society International Solidarity Committee
Minnesota Kachin Community
Myanmar Accountability Project
Myanmar Advocacy Coalition
Myanmar Doctors for Human Rights Network
Myanmar Engineers – New Zealand
Myanmar Family Community Ireland (MFCI)
Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
Myanmar Hindu Union
Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
Myanmar Students’ Union in New Zealand
National Clergy Conference for Justice and Peace
National Council of YMCAs of Korea
Nationalities Alliance of Burma USA
NeT Organization
Netherlands-Myanmar Solidarity Platform
Network for Human Rights Documentation Burma (ND-Burma)
Never Again Coalition
New Bodhisattva Network
New York Kachin Community
New Zealand Doctors for NUG
New Zealand Karen Association
New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
No Business With Genocide
North Carolina Kachin Community
Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica
Olive Organization
Omaha Kachin Community
Oversea Karen Organization Japan
Overseas Burmese Christian Fellowship
Overseas Mon Association New Zealand
Pa-O Women’s Union
Pennsylvania Kachin Community
People, not Profit
People’s Watch, India
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
PIDA (People’s Initiative for Development Alternatives)
Progressive 3.0
Progressive Korea
Progressive Voice
Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
Pyungdung Parents Union
Rohingya Cultural Center of Chicago
Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women on the Border Areas
Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
Save the Salween Network
SEA Junction
Shan Community (New Zealand)
Sisters 2 Sisters
Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
Solidarity for Another World
Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights in Asia
South Carolina Kachin Community
Spouses of Peoples’ Soldiers
Spring Revolution Interfaith Network
Students for Free Burma
Support Group for Democracy in Myanmar (Netherlands)
Support the Democracy Movement in Burma
Supporters Group for Migrant Workers Movement in Korea
Swedish Foundation for Human Rights
Synergy – Social Harmony Organization
Ta’ang Women’s Organization
Tennessee Kachin Community
The Center For Freedom of Information
The Human Rights Center of the National Council of Churches in Korea
The Rohingya American Society (RAS)
The Sound of Hope
Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar
S. Campaign for Burma
Union of Karenni State Youth
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)
US Advocacy Coalition for Myanmar
Utica Karen Community, NY
Virginia Kachin Community
Washington Kachin Community
West Virginia Kachin Community
Women’s League of Burma
Women’s Peace Network
Wonders International