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ASEAN leaders criticised for insufficient measures to resolve the crisis in Myanmar

7 Sep 2023

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) published a statement on the implementation of the ‘Five-Point Consensus’ (5PC) on restoring democracy in Myanmar/Burma on 5 September, which has been criticised for falling short of implementing measures to resolve the crisis in the country.

The 5PC is a peace plan agreed by ASEAN in April 2021, which calls for an end to violence in Myanmar and dialogue among all parties. ASEAN’s ‘review and decision’ document renews a commitment to the 5PC as a means for addressing the crisis in Myanmar but in the same document recognises its ‘lack of substantial progress’. The statement has been criticised by the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), a group of Members of Parliament (MPs) from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, as falling short of what is needed to resolve the crisis in the country.

APHR Chair Mercy Barends (Indonesia) said: ‘We appreciate that ASEAN leaders have condemned the violence perpetrated by the junta; however, words of condemnation are not enough to stop these acts from happening. And while ASEAN reaffirmed its commitment to assisting Myanmar in finding a peaceful solution – it does not indicate how or what steps will be taken. ASEAN has also failed to acknowledge and recognize the efforts and leadership of the pro-democracy movement in their various capacities.’ 

ASEAN’s statement also formally announced the 2026 chairmanship will go to the Philippines and not Myanmar, a step welcomed by many in the international community. However, there are no futher measures to tackle on the crisis in Myanmar. The Myanmar junta’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the ASEAN statement ‘biased’ and ‘one-sided’.

Myanmar is a member of ASEAN, however the military junta has been excluded from the bloc’s meetings since the coup that led to the ousting of an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.

Since the coup, Myanmar has experienced a marked increase in brutal and extreme forms of violence. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, over 24,000 political prisoners have been arrested since the coup took place in February 2021, and over 19,000 remain in detention. In addition, 4,047 people had reportedly been killed by the junta as of 6 September 2023.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘Whilst we welcome ASEAN’s re-allocation of the 2026 Chairmanship and its renewed call for an end to violence in Myanmar, these words are empty in the absence of any robust and swiftly enacted plan towards bringing about an end to the junta’s devastating control. We call upon ASEAN to move beyond the 5PC, which has been found to be ineffective, towards developing greater accountability mechanisms and increasing pressure through coordinated action by Member States to stop resourcing the junta and enforce existing sanctions in their region.’

Note to Editors:

  1. ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus was agreed by the nine ASEAN leaders and Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing at a summit in Jakarta in April 2021. The five points are: an immediate end to violence in the country; dialogue among all parties; the appointment of a special envoy; humanitarian assistance by ASEAN; and the special envoy’s visit to Myanmar to meet with all parties.



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