Human rights organizations from around the world call on the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar

In International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

On 5 May 2021, over 200 nongovernmental organizations from around the world called on the United Nations Security Council to immediately impose a comprehensive  global arms embargo on Myanmar, in the interests of preventing further lethal brutality and violations of human rights against peaceful protesters and others opposing military rule.

In recent weeks, Myanmar’s security forces have killed hundreds of people, including dozens of children, simply for exercising their fundamental rights to free expression and peaceful assembly. The signatory organizations consider the imposition of a global arms embargo on Myanmar as the minimal required response of the Security Council to the military’s escalating violence, warning that country’s ruling junta will continue to use imported weapons to commit crimes under international law.

We, the undersigned organizations, call on the United Nations Security Council to urgently impose a comprehensive global arms embargo on Myanmar to help prevent further violations of human rights against peaceful protesters and others opposing military rule. In recent weeks, Myanmar security forces have killed hundreds of people, including dozens of children, merely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Since the February 1, 2021 coup, Myanmar’s military junta has responded with increasing brutality to nationwide protests calling for the restoration of democratic civilian rule. As of May 4, security forces have killed at least 769 people, including 51 children as young as 5, and arbitrarily detained several thousand activists, journalists, civil servants, and politicians. Hundreds have been forcibly disappeared, the authorities unwilling to provide information on their well-being or where they are being held. Over the past few months, the military has demonstrated a callous disregard for human life that has driven its strategy for decades. In video footage from cities and towns across the country, soldiers can be seen shooting down protesters, including children, brutally beating medical aid workers, and firing shotguns into crowds of peacefully protesting doctors.

In addition to the latest violations of human rights, Myanmar’s security forces have a history of grave abuses against peaceful critics of the government and military, and war crimes and other international crimes against the Rohingya and other ethnic minority groups. Of particular note is the military’s widely documented use of sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon against ethnic communities.

No government should sell a single bullet to the junta under these circumstances. Imposing a global arms embargo on Myanmar is the minimum necessary step the Security Council should take in response to the military’s escalating violence. Arms and materiel provided to Myanmar’s security forces are likely to be used by the security forces to commit abuses in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.

For this reason, the undersigned organizations urge the United Kingdom, the Security Council’s “penholder” on Myanmar, and other Security Council member states to begin negotiations on a resolution authorizing an arms embargo as soon as possible. This will demonstrate to the junta that there will be no more business as usual.

Security Council members have increasingly spoken with one voice on Myanmar. The Council has called for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and others arbitrarily detained, including civilian leaders. It has condemned the military’s crackdown on peaceful protesters and called for an end to the ongoing violence. But unity is not an end in itself. The Council should now build on that unity and negotiate a resolution that would include an arms embargo and other substantive measures.

A comprehensive UN arms embargo on Myanmar should bar the direct and indirect supply, sale, or transfer of all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment, including dual-use goods such as vehicles and communications and surveillance equipment, as well as the provision of training, intelligence, and other military assistance. Such an embargo should be accompanied by robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

We note with disappointment the failure of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) April 24, 2021 summit to take more robust action to protect Myanmar’s people. Less than a day after the summit’s conclusions were published, the military’s violence continued, which only highlights the need for UN member countries and the Security Council to take decisive action to pressure the junta to reverse course.

The time for statements has passed. The Security Council should take its consensus on Myanmar to a new level and agree on immediate and substantive action. An arms embargo would be the centerpiece of a global effort to protect the people of Myanmar from further atrocities and help bring an end to impunity for crimes under international law.

Myanmar’s people cannot afford to wait any longer for the Security Council to take action.


  1. ACAT-France
  2. Access Now
  3. Act Church of Sweden
  4. Action Committee for Democracy Development
  5. Action on Armed Violence (AOAV)
  6. Africa Centre for Security, Governance and Research
  7. African Council of Religious Leaders-Religions for Peace
  8. Alliance for Democracy in Laos
  9. ALTSEAN Burma
  10. Amnesty International
  11. Arakan Institute for Peace and Development (AiPAD)
  12. Arakan Rohingya National Organization
  13. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
  14. Asia Democracy Network
  15. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  16. Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP)
  17. Association for Public Policy – APP (Argentina)
  18. Association INFO BIRMANIE (Info Burma)
  19. AVAAZ
  20. Baptist Union of Denmark
  21. Burma Campaign UK
  22. Burma Human Rights Network
  23. Burma Task Force
  24. Burmese Rohingya Organization UK
  25. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  26. Calgary Karen Community (CKCA)
  27. California Shan Society
  28. Cameroon Youths and Students Forum for Peace
  29. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)
  30. Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organization
  31. Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative
  32. Center for Justice and Accountability
  33. Center for Peace Education – Miriam College
  34. Center for Victims of Torture
  35. Centre Delas for Peace Studies
  36. Centro de Estudios Ecuménicos, A.C. – México
  37. Chin Human Rights Organization
  38. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)
  40. Civil Rights Defenders
  41. Committee of 100 in Finland
  42. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
  43. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization
  44. Control Arms
  45. Cordaid
  46. Dallas Ft. Worth Karen Community
  47. Dallas Karen Baptist Church, TX
  48. Danish United Nations Association
  49. Danmission
  50. DEEKU, the Karenni Community, USA
  51. EarthRights International
  52. Edmonton Karen Community Youth Organization
  53. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  54. FOMICRES, Mozambique
  55. Fortify Rights
  56. Forum on Disarmament and Development (FDD)
  57. FundiPau (Fundacio per la Pau)
  58. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  59. Global Justice Center
  60. Global Movement for Myanmar Democracy (GM4MD)
  61. Global Network of Women Peacebuilders
  62. Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict
  63. Global Witness
  64. Good Neighbors
  65. Hawai’i Institute for Human Rights
  66. HelpAge International
  67. Human Rights Foundation of Monland (Thailand)
  68. Human Rights Information and Training Center
  69. Human Rights Watch
  70. Institute for Asian Democracy
  71. Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
  72. Institute for Statelessness and Inclusion
  73. International Campaign for the Rohingya
  74. International Center for Not-for-Profit Law
  75. International Commission of Jurists
  76. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  77. International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School
  78. International Karen Organization, Australia
  79. International Service for Human Rights
  80. International State Crime Initiative
  81. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs
  82. Ipas (Myanmar)
  83. Jewish Rohingya Justice Network
  84. Kachin Community UK
  85. Kachin National Organization USA
  86. Kachin Women Action Thailand
  87. Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT)
  88. Kansas Karenni Community, KS
  89. Karen Youth Education Pathways USA
  90. Karen American Association of Wisconsin
  91. Karen Association of Huron, SD
  92. Karen Community of Akron, OH
  93. Karen Community of Canada (KCC)
  94. Karen Community of Czech Republic
  95. Karen Community of Finland
  96. Karen Community of Hamilton
  97. Karen Community of Iowa, IA
  98. Karen Community of Ireland
  99. Karen Community of Israel
  100. Karen Community of Kansas City, KS & MO
  101. Karen Community of Kitchener & Waterloo
  102. Karen Community of Leamington
  103. Karen Community of Lethbridge
  104. Karen Community of London
  105. Karen Community of Minnesota, MN
  106. Karen Community of North Carolina
  107. Karen Community of Ottawa
  108. Karen Community of Regina
  109. Karen Community of Rochester
  110. Karen Community of Rock Island, IL
  111. Karen Community of Saskatoon
  112. Karen Community of Syracuse, NY
  113. Karen Community of Thunderbay
  114. Karen Community of Toronto
  115. Karen Community of Windsor
  116. Karen Community of Winnipeg
  117. Karen Community Society of British Columbia
  118. Karen Organization of America
  119. Karen Thai Group
  120. Karen Youth Networks
  121. Karen Youth of Norway
  122. Karen Youth of Toronto
  123. Karen Youth Organization, Thailand
  124. Karenni American Association, USA
  125. Karenni Community of Bowling Green, KY
  126. Karenni Community of Des Moines, IA
  127. Karenni Community of Georgia, GA
  128. Karenni Community of Indianapolis, IN
  129. Karenni Community of Massachusetts, MA
  130. Karenni Community of Minnesota, MN
  131. Karenni Community of Missouri, MO
  132. Karenni Community of New York, NY
  133. Karenni Community of North Carolina, NC
  134. Karenni Community of Portland, OR
  135. Karenni Community of Texas
  136. Karenni Community of Wisconsin, WI
  137. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  138. Karenni Society of Minnesota North East
  139. Karenni-American Catholic Association
  140. Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists
  141. Khmers Kampuchea-Kron Federation (KKF)
  142. KontraS
  143. Korea Karen Organization
  144. Korea Karen Youth Organization
  145. Latin American and Caribbean Human Security Network (SEHLAC)
  146. L’chaim! Jews Against The Death Penalty
  147. Liberia Action Network on Small Arms
  148. MADRE
  149. Mechanism of Search for Peace and Development Initiative
  150. Mennonite Central Committee United Nations Office
  151. Mensen met een Missie
  152. Myanmar Trust UK
  153. Nadia’s Initiative
  154. Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative
  155. Never Again Coalition
  156. No Business With Genocide
  157. Nonviolence International
  158. Oversea Karen Organization Japan
  159. Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO)
  160. Parliamentarians for Global Action
  161. PAX
  162. Pax Christi International
  163. Pax Christi Philippines
  164. PEN Myanmar
  165. People’s Federation for National Peace and Development
  166. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD)
  167. Progressive Voice
  168. Reconstructing Judaism
  169. Refugees International
  170. Relief Action Network for IDP and Refugee (RANIR)
  171. RFK Human Rights
  172. Rights for Peace
  173. Rohingya American Society
  174. Rohingya Intellectuals Community Association, Australia
  175. Rohingya Organization Norway
  176. Rohingya Women Welfare Association
  177. Rohingya Youth Association
  178. Saferworld Europe
  179. South East Asia Movement for Human Rights & Justice
  180. Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa Sustainable Peace and Development Organization
  181. Swedish Burma Committee
  182. Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society
  183. The Arakan Project, Myanmar
  184. The Kachin Relief Fund
  185. The Shalom Center
  186. The Zambian Network for Human Rights Defenders
  187. TRANSCEND Pilipinas
  188. Unitarian Universalist Association
  189. United Nations Association – UK
  190. United Nations Association of Sweden
  191. US Campaign for Burma
  192. Vision GRAM-International
  193. Waging Peace
  194. West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)
  195. Women for Peace and Democracy Nepal
  196. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
  197. Women’s International Peace Centre
  198. Women’s Peace Network
  199. Women’s Refugee Commission
  200. World Council of Churches
  201. World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Peace
  202. Wunpawng Ninghtoi (WPN)
  203. Yanshuf Coalition, Israel

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