UN Rights Council to hold special session on Myanmar

Protesters hold portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on February 8, 2021. STR / AFP
  • Agence France-Presse
  • February 9, 2021 2:23 AM

Geneva, Switzerland | The UN Human Rights Council said it will hold a relatively rare special session this Friday to discuss the ongoing political crisis in Myanmar.

The move was officially requested on Monday by Britain and the European Union, with enough backing from countries to automatically trigger the meeting.

The call came a week after Myanmar's generals conducted a coup in the country. 

"The Human Rights Council will hold a special session to address the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar this Friday," the UN's top rights body said in a statement.

Myanmar's military last week detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and dozens of other members of her National League for Democracy party, ending a decade of civilian rule and triggering international condemnation.

Julian Braithwaite, Britain's ambassador in Geneva, told a council organisational meeting on Monday that London and Brussels were submitting the special session request.

Braithwaite said the call was "in response to the state of emergency imposed in Myanmar, the arbitrary detention of democratically-elected politicians and civil society by the military," which he said had "grave implications for human rights in the country".

"We must respond urgently to the plight of the people of Myanmar and the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation there," he said.

The support of one-third of the 47 council members -- so 16 or more -- is required for a special session to be convened.

It has the backing of 19 so far, including Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Mexico and South Korea, plus EU nations including France, Germany and Italy.

It also has the support of a further 28 observer states, including the United States, which only announced Monday it would "re-engage" with the council nearly three years after the administration of former president Donald Trump decided to withdraw.

It will be the 29th special session of the council.

Braithwaite said backers of the special session call would inform other council members soon about the drafting of a resolution on the issue.

The council will convene an organisational meeting on Thursday, where more specific details on the session will be announced.

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