Joint statement on the escalating conflict in Myanmar

May 24th, 2024

Statement signed by Australia, Canada, the European Union, the Republic of Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.

We, Australia, Canada, the European Union, the Republic of Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, are deeply concerned by the escalating conflict in Myanmar and in particular the increasing harm to civilians, which are driving a worsening and devastating human rights and humanitarian crisis across the country.

Since the February 2021 coup d’état, the number of people in humanitarian need has risen from 1 million to 18.6 million. There continues to be credible reports of violations and abuses committed against the civilian population, including airstrikes on homes, schools, places of worship and hospitals, as well as torture, the use of civilians as human shields, and sexual and gender-based violence against women and children. As the conflict continues to escalate, communities across Myanmar are being subjected to further displacement.

The military regime is systematically restricting access to life saving humanitarian assistance. We are concerned about growing water and food shortages and the widespread denial of access to health care, medicines, and vital humanitarian services. The continued blocking of roads and telecommunications in areas of conflict is hindering humanitarian delivery and access to information.

Across the country, more than 1,000 civilians were killed or maimed by landmines in 2023, and casualties are rapidly growing. Increasing numbers of people are being trafficked and held against their will. All parties must ensure that they are prioritising the protection of civilians.

We are deeply concerned by the military regime’s implementation of the 2010 conscription law, which is increasing the number of displaced people. This measure continues to attempt to divide communities and fuel identity-based violence across Myanmar.

In Rakhine State, towns and villages have been consistently targeted by the military regime and armed groups. We are concerned by recent reports of high levels of displacement in Buthidaung. We call on all armed actors to ensure the protection of civilians. Deliberate use of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech is stoking sectarian and intercommunal conflict. Reports of forced recruitment, including of Rohingya is further dividing communities and exploiting tensions and mistrust. All populations are facing extreme levels of food insecurity. The situation is increasingly dangerous for all civilians, including Rakhine, Rohingya and other ethnic communities.

There must be accountability for all atrocities committed in Myanmar. We recall the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures order and the need for compliance with it to safeguard human rights and prevent violations.

We welcome UN Security Council Resolution 2669 on the situation in Myanmar, calling for the immediate end to all forms of violence and urging all parties to respect human rights and to allow full, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access.

We welcome the appointment of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Myanmar (UNSE) and unified efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the UNSE and regional actors to resolve the crisis. We reiterate the need for strengthened UN leadership in the country.

We reiterate our call for all States to prevent or to cease the flow of arms or military and dual-use material, including aviation fuel, to the Myanmar military.

The military regime must release all those arbitrarily detained and implement in full the ASEAN Five Point Consensus. We call on all parties to create space for meaningful and inclusive dialogue, so that democracy can be restored in full.

We remain resolute in our support for all those committed to working peacefully towards an inclusive, non-violent and democratic future for the people of Myanmar.