UN Rohingya resolution reeks of Dhaka’s diplomatic failures

Published: 00:00, Nov 21,2020


THE United Nations having adopted a resolution on November 18 urging Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis appears to the Bangladesh side to be ‘a major achievement’. But experts believe that the adoption of such a resolution is of little significance. This also speaks of major diplomatic failures on part of Bangladesh authorities. After the latest round of ‘security operations’ by Myanmar’s military in Rakhine, 8,60,000 Rohingyas had fled unbridled violence to safety into Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 to join many others having already lived here since the late 1970s to take the total number of Rohingyas in Bangladesh to more than 1.1 million. Efforts to repatriate the Rohingyas since August 2017 have faltered twice — on August 22, 2019 and November 15, 2018 — mostly because Myanmar continued creating a fearful situation for the Rohingyas in Rakhine, with none living in Cox’s Bazar camps voluntarily turning up to accept the repatriation offer, citing a ‘lack of a congenial atmosphere’ in their homeland. The process of Rohingya repatriation has since then been left somewhat unattended. Although the Bangladesh permanent representative to the United Nations describes the adoption of the resolution as ‘a very strong mandate’, this speaks of grave Bangladesh failures at the diplomatic level.

Member-states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union placed the resolution that has asked Myanmar to take specific action which includes the granting of citizenship to minority Rohingyas, their safe and sustainable return by creating a conducive atmosphere in Rakhine, the accountability of the military brutality of Myanmar and justice for the Rohingyas. While nine countries — Belarus, Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Russia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe — opposed the adoption of the resolution, 31 countries, including India and Japan, abstained from voting. The countries also include Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand and Kenya. Australia and only three of the 10 ASEAN members — Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia — supported the resolution. India in September 2017 professed its ‘full support for Bangladesh’s stance’ on the Rohingya issue, yet said it would ‘dissociate’ itself from any UN attempts at sending a mission to investigate the Rohingya repression in Rakhine and abstained two times from voting on a UN resolution condemning rights violations in Myanmar. China and Russia in December 2018 boycotted UN talks and in December 2017 opposed a UN resolution on the Rohingya issue. The adoption of the resolution is highly unlikely to make a substantial progress as the old pattern of voting remained, which reeks of gross diplomatic failures on part of Bangladesh.

It is believed that the old pattern may continue coming up even in future instances unless Bangladesh authorities makes a broad engagement at the diplomatic level. The actors at the United Nations hope that the resolution would help to attend to the long-standing plight of the Rohingyas as basic rights would be restored to them for their return to their native land of Rakhine in safety, security and dignity. Bangladesh is reported to be continuing to seek a peaceful resolution of the Rohingya crisis but an effective resolution of the crisis could hardly happen unless Dhaka steps up to the plate at the diplomatic level to impress on stakeholders that a resolution of the crisis is not only important for Bangladesh but also for the Rohingyas, now said to be the most persecuted community in the world.

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