The UK Government’s Response to the Myanmar Crisis Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Diplomatic and multilateral action

1.If the UK is to fulfil its unique potential to mediate, it has to demonstrate a willingness to take action beyond statements. A coherent and concerted response is needed by the United Nations if the junta is to feel any real pressure. Actions should be taken to de-legitimise the junta’s authority, block its supply of arms, and encourage regional actors to take firmer measures. (Paragraph 8)

2.The UK Government cannot be said to support democracy in Myanmar if it does not recognise the outcome of democratic elections in Myanmar. The National Unity Government comprises the legitimate representatives of the people of Myanmar, whose election has been found valid by third party observers. Rather than an exile government, the NUG should be treated as a government-in-waiting. (Paragraph 10)

3.We recommend that the UK Government supports the democratically elected National Unity Government of Myanmar by working with its representatives to identify and push for peaceful outcomes and draw attention to the junta’s illegal actions. (Paragraph 14)

4.This support should be contingent on the NUG’s clear and continued commitment to the rights of different ethnic groups and minorities, and to delivering justice for past crimes. The UK should work to encourage other countries to do the same. (Paragraph 14)

5.It is essential that the UK Government’s actions do not appear to legitimise the authority of the junta in any way. Any actions that do will be seized upon by the junta and used as propaganda. Engagement should be strictly limited to increasing diplomatic and economic pressure to reduce the violence the junta is committing against civilians. (Paragraph 15)

6.Freezing the Tatmadaw’s supply of arms should be the first priority of all those who wish to see violence in Myanmar come to an end. (Paragraph 17)

7.We recommend that the UK draft a United Nations Security Council resolution calling explicitly for an arms embargo on Myanmar in order to gauge the current level of support and the type of diplomatic engagement that is required to establish an effective arms embargo. The ultimate objective of the UK should be securing a binding Security Council resolution on an arms embargo on Myanmar. (Paragraph 17)

8.In the absence of a binding UN resolution on an arms embargo, we recommend that the UK works bilaterally and with groups such as the G7, the Quad, and the Five Power Defence Arrangements to build broader coalitions that will implement individual arms embargos, while also maintaining pressure and support for an official United Nations arms embargo. Pressure should also be applied to other countries to cease all training of the Myanmar military. (Paragraph 18)

9.If ASEAN’s mediation efforts are to have any chance of succeeding, they must be much more assertive, with a focus on holding the leaders of the junta to account. The UK has a responsibility to amplify the importance of human rights and international law in ASEAN deliberations. (Paragraph 20)

10.Using its new status as an ASEAN Dialogue Partner, the UK should work with ASEAN to avoid any member states legitimising the junta’s authority, and should make the release of political prisoners and the cessation of all violence a fundamental part of the mediation process. The UK should also encourage ASEAN to impose a strict timeline on the junta for adoption of the five-point consensus, expediting a decision on the appointment of an ASEAN envoy to lead mediation efforts. (Paragraph 20)

11.If the crisis continues to worsen, and in the absence of meaningful action through other United Nations mechanisms, the Uniting for Peace option may be another viable avenue for action, as the General Assembly has already shown consensus on an arms embargo. (Paragraph 22)

12.We recommend that the Government explore the feasibility of moving for a Uniting for Peace resolution if there is a failure to reach consensus in the Security Council within the next three months. (Paragraph 22)

13.To draw further attention to the challenges faced by different groups, the Government should consider raising the issue of Myanmar at the UN treaty bodies. This may include, but not be limited to, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, due to the Tatmadaw’s reported use of rape as a weapon of war; the Committee on the Rights of the Child, due to the number of children killed by the Tatmadaw; and the Committee against Torture, due to the reported torture and extrajudicial detention of protestors. (Paragraph 23)


14.We welcome the Government’s willingness to sanction individuals and Tatmadaw-linked companies in critical sectors. This should be taken further by freezing the military’s revenue sources on all possible fronts. The UK has the economic and technical capabilities to help significantly undermine the junta’s business in crucial industries. (Paragraph 28)

15.The Government should implement sanctions on Myanmar businesses and organisations in key industries on which the junta is dependent at a much faster pace, while encouraging countries which are not currently introducing sanctions to do so. (Paragraph 28)

16.We heard that banks operating in countries including Singapore and Thailand can be compelled by UK regulators to enforce UK sanctions, as they conduct transactions in British pounds. This would cut off a key intermediary for the junta’s revenues, shutting down another line of income. (Paragraph 29)

17.We recommend that the UK seeks to ensure that relevant third country financial institutions and regulators support sanctions placed on Tatmadaw-linked businesses and individuals. (Paragraph 29)

Humanitarian support

18.The UK should use the UN system to build consensus on the need for humanitarian assistance within Myanmar, emphasising fundamental requirements such as healthcare and basic provisions. (Paragraph 32)

19.This should be done using a mechanism that will compel or encourage other countries to act, such as a resolution or statement at the Security Council or the General Assembly. Doing so will reaffirm certain countries’ commitment to provide humanitarian support and apply pressure to those who have not done so as yet. (Paragraph 32)

20.The Government should use its diplomatic influence to encourage border countries such as Thailand and India to accept more refugees from Myanmar, and to meet their commitments of non-refoulement and support them as they do so, through channels including human rights and governance focused aid projects. It should also encourage these countries to allow cross-border aid to reach Myanmar citizens impacted by the coup. (Paragraph 34)

21.We recommend that the Government explore innovative ways of providing financial support to of civil society organisations. (Paragraph 38)

22.Aid spending should be funnelled to civil society and grassroots organisations who are doing invaluable on-the-ground work to support those suffering under the junta. Organisations providing tailored support to different ethnic groups should also be specifically targeted for assistance. (Paragraph 38)

Accountability and transparency

23.At the heart of this coup is the belief in impunity. The generals leading the junta believe they can act without consequence. It is vital that the international community demonstrates that this is not the case. Not only is it important that those responsible for crimes against civilians in Myanmar are held accountable, but also that others who would commit similar crimes in future can see that violations of international law have real consequences. The Government should not allow the military leaders to operate with impunity, and without the prospect of facing justice. (Paragraph 39)

24.We recommend that, should other accountability efforts fail, the Government publicly state its support for referring those responsible for the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court. (Paragraph 40)

25.We recommend that the UK Government announce its intention to intervene in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar) at the International Court of Justice. (Paragraph 41)

26.Assistance should be provided to local media organisations which continue to provide information and hold the junta to account at serious personal risk. Ethnic media agencies in particular, which broadcast and provide information in different languages throughout Myanmar, require particular support. (Paragraph 43)

27.We recommend that the Government explore ways to provide core funding and resourcing support to independent ethnic language media organisations. (Paragraph 43)

28.The Government should target funding and resources such as protected communications and data storage equipment to civil society organisations on the ground in Myanmar, who are collecting evidence of human rights abuses committed by the Tatmadaw, for future due process. (Paragraph 45)

Myanmar nationals in the UK

29.While we commend the Government’s decision to provide support to the recently deposed Myanmar ambassador, Kyaw Zwar Minn, we recognise that there are other Myanmar nationals in the UK requiring assistance. These people do not have access to the proper channels for extending their UK visas. (Paragraph 48)

30.We recommend that the Government introduces ‘protected status’ lasting the duration of the violence for Myanmar nationals who are currently based in the UK but are unable to renew their visas due to the military’s occupation of the embassy in London. (Paragraph 48)


31.It is the duty of the international community to support the Myanmar people in their efforts to stop the violence and bring about the democracy for which the country has fought so long. The Government has made positive steps on Myanmar, but there is far more it can do, given its lead role at the UN and upcoming status as an ASEAN Dialogue Partner. Through delegitimising the authority of the junta, applying severe and widespread economic pressure, stemming the flow of arms, and building broad coalitions to condemn the violence and support humanitarian assistance, the UK can have a real impact on resolving the violence and preventing the deaths of more people. (Paragraph 49)

Published: 16 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement