China, Russia Veto Myanmar Resolution

The Associated Press
Sunday, January 14, 2007; 12:15 AM

UNITED NATIONS -- China and Russia blocked the Security Council from demanding an end to political repression and human rights violations in military-ruled Myanmar, rejecting a resolution proposed by the United States.

The vote was 9-3 in favor of the resolution, with South Africa joining China and Russia in the opposition. Indonesia, Qatar and the Republic of Congo abstained. While they were in the minority, China and Russia were able to kill the resolution because they have veto power as permanent members of the council.

The two argued that the U.N.'s most powerful body was not the proper forum for discussing the Southeast Asian nation because the country doesn't threaten international peace. China and Russia both have human rights records that have frequently been criticized.

Myanmar's U.N. Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe thanked China and Russia and the countries that abstained. Had the resolution been adopted "it would have created a dangerous precedent," he said.

State media, which closely reports the junta line, praised the outcome Sunday. The New Light of Myanmar called it a "victory for the people of the international community and the people of Myanmar who love truth."

Multiple vetoes in the Security Council are rare, raising questions about unity in the months ahead when the council will have to deal with difficult issues including Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region and the follow-up to sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

Myanmar's junta took power in 1988 after crushing the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention for much of the last 18 years. Hundreds of her supporters remain in prison.

"This resolution would have been a strong and urgently needed statement by the Security Council about the need for change in Burma," said Acting U.S. ambassador Alejandro Wolff, using Myanmar's former name.

Still, he said, "the people of Burma should not be disheartened" because the vote reflected differences over the Security Council's jurisdiction, not about their plight.

All 15 council members "recognize that there are problems in the areas of human rights, social issues, political freedom," he said.

The last multiple veto was in 1989 by the U.S., Britain and France on a Panama resolution and the last double veto by China and the former Soviet Union was on a 1972 Mideast resolution.

"We find that attempts aimed at using the Security Council to discuss issues outside its view are unacceptable," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said, noting that problems in Myanmar were being addressed by other U.N. bodies.

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