United States Submits Burma Resolution to U.N. Security Council

By Judy Aita
USINFO United Nations Correspondent

United Nations - The United States has introduced a resolution in the Security Council that would set out key actions Burma's rulers must take to reduce the threat to peace and security in the region and provide a better life for their people.

Emerging from a closed Security Council meeting January 9, acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff said he presented a two-page draft resolution to the other 14 council members.  Negotiations on the text will begin immediately, Wolff told journalists.  "We expressed our priority and the expectation we will be able to [vote] as quickly as possible, hopefully this week."

"The people of Burma are watching us and require our help and support," he said.

Wolff said the United States discussed the need for a resolution with other council members and U.N. officials.  "There was clear agreement and consensus that the situation in Burma is of concern," he said.  "So the time is right to do it now."

The draft resolution calls on the regime to work with U.N. special representative Ibrahim Gambari, who last visited Burma in November 2006, meeting with top government officials, the leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

After his visit, Gambari told the Security Council that "small steps have been taken" by the government, but the leaders need to take further steps to respond to the concerns of the international community.  "The ball is clearly in the court of the government," Gambari said.  (See related article.)

The draft resolution calls attention to the deteriorating overall situation in Burma that poses serious risks to peace and security in the region.  In addition to focusing on the political repression and large-scale human rights violations, the draft mentions the transnational threats the Burmese situation poses from HIV/AIDS, avian flu and drug trafficking.

The U.S. draft calls on Burma "to take concrete steps to allow full freedom of expression, association and movement by unconditionally releasing Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, lifting all constraints on all political leaders and citizens and allowing the NLD and other political parties to reopen their offices."

Wolff said that of the thousands of prisoners released by Burma on January 3, only 40 actually were political prisoners. "If you check the facts, you'll find that there are more political prisoners today than there were a year ago in Burma," he said.

On January 8, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Burma to free all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 10 of the past 16 years.

The draft calls on the regime to cease military attacks against civilians in ethnic minority regions and to end the use of systematic rape of women and girls as an instrument of armed conflict.  It also underscores the urgent need for Burma to allow international humanitarian aid organizations to operate without restrictions.

For more information on U.S. policies, see U.S. Support for Democracy in Burma.