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Myanmar: UN special session welcome first step, but concrete action required

Responding to the announcement today that the UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Myanmar on 11 February, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Research, Emerlynne Gil, said: 

It is critical that the international community uses all the tools at its disposal to respond to the Myanmar military’s assault on human rights. Myanmar’s military leadership includes perpetrators of crimes against international law, and they cannot be allowed to terrorize the country unchecked.   

There is no time to waste. At least 150 people have been detained since 1 February 2021, and members of the civilian government remain under house arrest. Many human rights defenders are in hiding. We are especially concerned for displaced populations, ethnic minorities, and people in conflict-affected areas – we know what this military is capable of.  

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets around the country demonstrating against the military takeover, risking arrest and physical harm. The international community must stand up for all those exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association in Myanmar, and do everything in their power to protect them from harm. 

“Concrete action by the Human Rights Council is critical to halt and prevent further human rights violations on the ground. States must work towards a meaningful outcome from this week’s special session, including by ensuring enhanced monitoring and reporting of the human rights situation as it unfolds, and concrete steps to deter future violations.

This action by the Human Rights Council should be seen as complementary to – and certainly not an alternative to – the important action still needed from the UN Security Council. 


Amnesty International issued a joint call with 12 other human rights organizations on 5 February, urging the Human Rights Council to convene a special session. On 8 February, the UK announced that the UK together with the EU, would lead the convening of a Human Rights Council special session on Myanmar on Thursday 11 February 2021 

Amnesty also calls on the UN Security Council to impose targeted financial sanctions against Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders responsible for atrocity crimes against various ethnic minorities across the country, including the Rohingya. The Security Council must also impose a comprehensive global arms embargo on Myanmar, and crucially, refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court. 

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