Myanmar: failed coup or failed state?

Anna Triponel

August 2, 2021
Our key takeaway: “We strongly believe that when Myanmar’s history is written, it will be not of a failed state, but of a failed coup. The world must now do everything to make this a reality” – in the words of Yanghee Lee, Marzuki Darusman and Chris Sodoti

The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M) comprised of Yanghee Lee – former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar from 2014 to 2020 as well as Marzuki Darusman and Chris Sodoti – former Chair and Member respectively of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (IIFFM) on Myanmar is calling for a global three cuts strategy against the Myanmar military junta and for the international community to step up:

  • “Myanmar is not a failed state, but a failed coup – thanks to the resourceful and resilient people of the country.” The SAC-M observes that “[a]cross Myanmar, an almost parallel state has emerged, comprised of a broad coalition of democratic forces. This network provides healthcare, safety, and other vital services in the vacuum left by the illegal junta over the past six months.” The SAC-M points to the “brave pro-democracy movement” and a “network, held together by the common thread of building a democratic, inclusive Myanmar.” Thus, “it is wrong to assume that is only a matter of time before Myanmar joins the wretched list of failed states. If Myanmar becomes a failed state it will only be because the international community failed to come to its aid.” Specifically, the international community should mandate an urgent humanitarian intervention, recognise the National Unity Government (NUG) as the legitimate representatives of the people of Myanmar (including before the UN General Assembly), get medical supplies and health professionals to areas most in need and end the impunity of the military.
  • Cut the cash and stop financing the military junta. The SAC-M notes the imperative to disengage from all State-owned economic enterprises. The SAC-M notes that “several business entities have decided to take a range of actions, from leaving the country to suspending production and operations or ceasing partnership with Tatmadaw-affiliated entities, either for ethical reasons, to express opposition to the coup and confirm their commitment to human rights, rule of law, and democracy, or for commercial reasons, because of the uncertainty and instability.” The SAC-M references UN Guiding Principles 13 and 23 as particularly relevant for companies, and underscores the “importance of business entities weighing in to address the political and human rights situation” – with all companies operating in Myanmar (and natural resource extraction companies in particular) being asked to “assess without any further delay if their actions are financially supporting the Tatmadaw, directly or indirectly, and take immediate appropriate actions to end that support.” The SAC-M’s website provides a list of actions taken by companies, followed by a list of actions taken by investors.
  • Cut the impunity and bring the situation in Myanmar before the International Criminal Court. The SAC-M points to the “lack of accountability” that “has fueled devastating cycles of abuse at the hands of the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw, and, to a lesser extent, other armed actors in Myanmar.” The SAC-M points to the systematic violence against civilians, including since the attempted coup, noting that “[t]his is the junta’s modus operandi and until the leaders of the junta are held to account, it cannot be expected to change from these tactics. Consequently, the lives and rights of all the ordinary people of Myanmar remain at grave risk.” Since national mechanisms have proven unable to provide the necessary justice, the international community has been taking steps (e.g. through the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the Argentinian Federal Criminal Court). Specifically, the SAC-M’s position is that “the situation in Myanmar as a whole should be before the International Criminal Court. That requires either referral by the Security Council or accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by Myanmar’s National Unity Government.”

For more, see Yanghee Lee, Chris Sidoti, and Marzuki Darusman, Myanmar Is Not a Failed State, But a Failed Coup (3 August 2021, The Diplomat)

See Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M), The Three Cuts

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