Bid to cut funding for UN probe fails
THE United Nations has channelled funding into a newly created evidence-gathering mechanism tasked with investigations on incidents in Myanmar, despite China’s attempt to half the funding.
The UN General Assembly’s budget committee approved US$28 million (K52 billion) for the mechanism, with a minor reduction of US$1 million from the original amount. China had called for the halving of the proposed budget during the negotiations, according to rights advocacy group, Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Established in September 2018, the independent mechanism “will be responsible for preparing case files to standards required for any future criminal prosecution in a national or international court of law,” said Sean Bain, Yangon-based legal adviser with the International Commission of Jurists, adding that the effort is particularly relevant as the humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine remains unresolved.
“Over time evidence deteriorates and memories fade, so the mechanism plays an important role now in preserving evidence for use in possible future criminal trials, either in national courts or an international tribunal.
“Critically, the mechanism sends a message to perpetrators that impunity is not guaranteed, and this hopefully deters the repetition of criminal acts which constitute human rights violations,” Mr Bain explained.
“As major powers they [China and Russia] believe it is in their interest to resolve conflicts in countries and regions that are important to them either bilaterally or with a small group of regional countries. They don’t want the UN to play an important role and particularly not where international criminal accountability is concerned,” Laetitia van den Assum, member of the former Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission, told the Myanmar Times.
As international pressure mounts over the northern Rakhine humanitarian crisis, China has shielded Nay Pyi Taw from sanctions and “offered rhetorical and material support” for Myanmar, according to a United States Institute of Peace report published in September 2018.
Myanmar, China, Russia and India have not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which provides legal ground for the International Criminal Court. None of them, alongside with Japan, vote in favour of a human rights-related UN General Assembly resolution on Myanmar held on December 22.
“Taken together - China, Russia, India and Japan - all have strong economic interests in Myanmar and they put these first.
“They believe that in the longer-term, justice, and their security and economic interests, are better served by domestic processes that have been shown to have no legitimacy,” the independent diplomatic expert commented.
In October last year, Beijing, backed by Moscow, attempted to stop a Security Council briefing accusing Myanmar’s military of genocide against the Muslims in northern Rakhine. The findings of the UN report were rejected by Nay Pyi Taw.
Members of a UN Security Council team arrive at Sittwe airport in Rakhine in May 2018.