India engages constructively in UNSC presidential statement on Myanmar

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Mar 11, 2021, 03:10 PM IST

(File photo) UNSC Photograph:(Reuters)

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This is the first time the UNSC statement has "condemned" the violence in Myanmar.

India on Wednesday played a constructive role in the presidential statement that was issued by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) regarding the situation in Myanmar.

The statement by the UNSC reiterated "deep concern" about the development in Myanmar while condemning the "violence against peaceful protesters". The one-page statement expressed "deep concern" over restrictions against medical personnel, civil society, labour union members, journalists and media workers, and "called for the immediate release of all those detained arbitrarily". 

This is the first time the UNSC statement has "condemned" the violence in Myanmar.

India's "constructive" engagement was reflected in the UNSC statement and also in line with its previous statement at the United Nations. When it comes to New Delhi's policy on Myanmar, it was explicitly mentioned by India's ambassador to the UN, TS Tirumurti, at the United Nations General Assembly in February. While expressing "concerns", the envoy called out for "restoration of democratic order", the release of political detainees, and the development should not impact the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to the country. 

The UNSC presidential statement builds upon the earlier press statement of February 4. The core UN group had met back then, days after February 1 coup. 

Back then, India was widely appreciated for playing an "important" role by being the "bridge" and making sure that there is a balanced approach in the text. In both major conversations at the UN high table, India did not take sides with the Chinese or Russian position. 

Interestingly, immediately after the UNSC statement, the Chinese envoy to United Nations Zhang Jun issued a statement and parroted the line of Myanmar's military. 
In reply to the UNSC statement, China said, "Now it's time for de-escalation. It's time for diplomacy. It's time for dialogue". 

"The international community should create an enabling environment for relevant parties in Myanmar to address differences under the constitutional and legal framework," he added.

Question is that half the "relevant parties" is the disposed civilian government of the country which is in jail for any "differences" to be addressed. As for the "constitutional or legal" framework, many will see it being violated by Tatmadaw or the armed forces of Myanmar in the first place.

The Chinese statement was seen as one backsliding on the UNSC presidential statement. The statement also had no mention of the restoration of democracy or the release of detainees, unlike the Indian statement at UNGA.

The US, which is the chair of the UNSC for the month of March, also issued a statement commending the "courage and determination" of the "peaceful protesters" in Burma in the "face of continued, brutal attacks by military and security forces."

The US does not recognise "Myanmar" as the official name of the country but refers to it as Burma. Myanmar was the name adopted by the country's military in 1989.