Explainer-Why is ASEAN holding a particular assembly on Myanmar? By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands close to nationwide flags of ASEAN counties flags through the twenty fifth ASEAN Summit in Myanmar Worldwide Conference Centre in Naypyitaw November 12, 2014. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun/File Photograph

By Martin Petty

(Reuters) – Overseas ministers from member international locations of the Affiliation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are assembly on Thursday to debate an intensifying disaster in Myanmar, 18 months after agreeing a peace plan with its navy rulers.


ASEAN’s peace effort is the one official diplomatic course of in play, but it surely has up to now been a failure, with the junta unwilling to implement a so-called “five-point consensus” that it agreed to with ASEAN in April 2021.

ASEAN holds its annual summit subsequent month and will probably be joined by quite a few world leaders. The United Nations has backed the ASEAN plan, however worldwide endurance is sporting skinny, with suspicion the generals are paying lip service and shopping for time to consolidate energy and crush opponents earlier than a 2023 election, realizing they may then management the end result.

For ASEAN to stay credible as a mediator, it could have to current a brand new technique earlier than the summit.


The settlement contains a right away finish of hostilities, all events partaking in constructive dialogue, permitting an ASEAN envoy to mediate and meet all stakeholders, and for ASEAN to supply humanitarian help.

Up to now, the one success cited by ASEAN chair Cambodia has been permitting some humanitarian entry, however that has been restricted and conditional.


ASEAN has had two Myanmar particular envoys and each have expressed frustration with the junta for denying them entry to different stakeholders, together with deposed chief Aung San Suu Kyi, who’s on trial, accused of a number of crimes.

The junta has refused to have interaction opponents or civil society teams and has outlawed a shadow Nationwide Unity Authorities (NUG) and an alliance of sidelined lawmakers, designating them “terrorists”. It has vowed to destroy resistance teams however its offensives have killed a lot of civilians and prompted frequent worldwide condemnation.

Present ASEAN envoy Prak Sokhonn, Cambodia’s international minister, has complained of an absence of political will from all sides, with the shortage of belief stopping anybody from coming to the negotiating desk.

He mentioned he understood criticism that his visits have been one-sided and will legitimise the junta. His solely notable assembly have been with the generals up to now, with many cancelled. He has unsuccessfully sought the navy’s blessing to have interaction the NUG in dialogue.


The navy authorities has accused vital ASEAN members of meddling and warned them to not interact with the NUG. In August it cited “notable progress” on the peace plan, with out offering specifics, however mentioned its dedication can be decided by developments on the bottom.

It has accused its opponents of making an attempt to sabotage the ASEAN plan and has justified navy offensives as essential to safe the nation and allow political talks.

As a substitute of advocating for the five-point ASEAN plan, the generals have as a substitute been pushing a five-step roadmap of their very own in direction of a brand new election, with few similarities.


It’s unclear what proposals the international ministers will carry to the assembly.

Suspending Myanmar as an ASEAN member can be extraordinarily unlikely, as would any commerce sanctions, and the junta has demonstrated it won’t reply to threats. Modifying the plan might be interpreted as concessions to the navy.

Malaysia’s international minister Saifuddin Abdullah has mentioned the consensus have to be critically reviewed for its relevance “and if it must be changed with one thing higher”.

Singapore in August mentioned the navy had disrespected ASEAN’s peace effort and interesting with the junta had restricted worth with out progress.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr final month mentioned he can be proposing a brand new method on Myanmar that “on the very least” would carry the junta or its representatives to the desk.

His technique might meet resistance, nonetheless.

ASEAN has up to now opted to bar the generals from key summits and invited non-political representatives as a substitute, which the junta has declined.

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