Skip to main content

Report: The UK Government's Response to the Myanmar Crisis

16 July 2021

The Committee calls on the UK Government to treat the democratically elected National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar as a government-in-waiting, contingent on the NUG’s clear and continued commitment to the rights of different ethnic groups and minorities, and to delivering justice for past crimes.

It argues that it is essential that the UK Government’s actions do not appear to legitimise the authority of the military junta in any way. Working with ASEAN, the UK should make the release of political prisoners and the cessation of violence a fundamental part of all mediation processes.

Arms embargo

The report recommends that actions should be taken to de-legitimise the junta's authority, freeze the Tatmadaw’s supply of arms, and encourage regional actors to take firmer measures. The report recommends that the ultimate objective of the Government should be securing a binding Security Council resolution on an arms embargo on Myanmar, and to lead coalitions of countries enforcing individual embargoes in the interim. Pressure should also be applied to other countries to cease all training of the Myanmar military.


The Committee recommends that sanctions should be taken further by freezing the military’s revenue sources on all possible fronts, focusing first on the Myanmar businesses and organisations in key industries on which the junta is dependent.

The report recommends that the Government seeks to ensure that relevant third country financial institutions and regulators support sanctions placed on Tatmadaw-linked businesses and individuals. Banks operating in countries including Singapore and Thailand can be compelled by UK regulators to enforce UK sanctions, as they conduct transactions in British pounds. This would cut off a key intermediary for the junta’s revenues, shutting down another line of income.

Ensuring accountability

The Government should not allow the military leaders to operate with impunity, and without the prospect of facing justice. The UK Government should announce its intention to intervene in the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar) at the International Court of Justice. The report recommends that, should other accountability efforts fail, the Government publicly state its support for referring those responsible for the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.

Myanmar nationals in UK

The Government should introduce ‘protected status’, lasting the duration of the violence, for Myanmar nationals who are currently based in the UK but are unable to renew their visas due to the military’s occupation of the embassy in London.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:

“Since the military coup d'état in February, hundreds of people have been killed, thousands have disappeared, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. The military junta has inflicted deplorable violence and suffering on the people of Myanmar, and whilst there has been universal condemnation, little concrete action has been taken.

The National Unity Government are the rightful, democratic representatives of the people of Myanmar, and should be treated as such. However, support of the National Unity Government must be contingent on its clear and continued commitment to the rights of all ethnic groups and minorities, and to delivering justice for past crimes and abuses.

The Tatmadaw have fabricated and propagated the myth of a fraudulent election, and have used this fiction as justification to seize and maintain power, holding a country hostage. The UK Government needs to push back against this lie and refuse to recognise the authority of the junta.

Securing a binding Security Council resolution on an arms embargo against Myanmar is a priority and an opportunity to prevent further escalation of conflict. Sanctions should be used to cut off the military’s revenue sources, and international banks using British pounds for transactions should be compelled to support these sanctions.

The growth of displaced persons and those seeking refuge is alarming and shows no signs of slowing down. An international commitment to the provision humanitarian aid needs to be reached.

The people of Myanmar have been deprived of democracy repeatedly and at the hands of a corrupt, power-hungry military. The UK must stand by all those, both within Myanmar and outside, fighting for the most basic of democratic rights.”

Further information

Image: Unsplash