News Release

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

Council-sponsored Task Force to U.S. Government: Go to the United Nations, Condemn Burmese Military Crackdown on Democratic Opposition and Impose Sanctions

June 18, 2003
Council on Foreign Relations

Share

Photo Credit: SARDARI GROUP, INC.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Task Force Director Mathea Falco
and Senator Mitch McConnell at Wednesday's roll out on Capitol Hill.


WASHINGTON, June 18 - The United States must urge the UN Security Council to hold an emergency session on Burma to condemn the military government’s recent crackdown on the democratic opposition there, concludes the newly released Council-sponsored Independent Task Force, Burma: A Time For Change.

In that session, the Security Council should impose targeted sanctions on Burma, including denying visas to leaders of the military regime, freezing their assets, banning new investments and the import of Burmese goods. The Task Force also strongly recommends that the United States adopt an immediate import ban on goods produced in Burma—even if there is no UN Security Council resolution to that effect. At the same time, the United States should increase humanitarian assistance to Burma to help mitigate that country’s massive refugee crisis and public health emergencies, particularly the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “This report will trigger the first serious debate in years about what America believes it stands for in Burma and around the world,” said Council President Leslie H. Gelb.

Burma is one of the most tightly controlled dictatorships in the world. For over four decades, Burma’s 50 million people have been oppressed by military rulers that have systematically impoverished the country’s natural and human resources. In recent weeks, the Burmese military regime aggressively moved to wipe out the already fragile democratic opposition.

The Task Force, led by Mathea Falco, president of Drug Strategies and former assistant secretary of state for international narcotics matters, also makes recommendations for U.S. policy toward Burma in the areas of human rights, democracy and the rule of law; humanitarian assistance, particularly HIV/AIDS; narcotics control; and refugees. “The Burmese regime has repeatedly broken its promises to begin substantive dialogue with the democratic opposition,” said Falco, “It is time for the UN and the international community to take action.”

Among the Task Force’s recommendations, the United States should:

  • Redouble its efforts with the governments of China, Japan and the ASEAN countries— particularly Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia— to press the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to work with the National League for Democracy (NLD) and ethnic nationalities toward political transition in Burma.

  • Strongly discourage Japan from forgiving outstanding debt from bilateral grants and loans until the SPDC makes substantial progress on human rights and engages in substantive political dialogue with the democratic opposition.

  • Urge Asian investors to press the SPDC to begin implementing the economic measures recommended by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank as one of the prerequisites for further investment.

  • Encourage China to press the Burmese government to reform its economy and move towards democratic governance to promote stability in the region.

  • Tie increased counter-narcotics cooperation to significant steps by the Burmese government to curb methamphetamine production, to arrest leading traffickers, and to stop channeling drug money into the illicit economy.

  • Provide increased humanitarian assistance for refugees along both sides of the Thai-Burma border, and on Burma's borders with India, Bangladesh, and China.

  • In view of Burma's massive public health crisis, the U.S. should increase humanitarian aid, provided that the funds are given to international nongovernmental organizations through a process that requires transparency, accountability and consultation with the NLD and other groups representative of a multi-ethnic Burma.


Established in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is a nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank, dedicated to increasing America’s understanding of the world and contributing ideas to U.S. foreign policy. The Council accomplishes this mainly by promoting constructive debates, clarifying world issues, producing reports, and publishing Foreign Affairs, the leading journal on global issues.

Full text of the Council-sponsored Independent Task Force, Burma: A Time for Change.

TASK FORCE MEMBERS

MATHEA FALCO
Task Force Chair
President of Drug Strategies
Former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Matters (1977-1981)

MAUREEN AUNG-THWIN
Open Society Institute

JANET BENSHOOF
Human Rights Lawyer

GEORGE C. BIDDLE
International Rescue Committee

ROBERT CARSWELL
Of Counsel, Shearman & Sterling

W. BOWMAN CUTTER
Warburg Pincus

DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA)
United States Senate

ADRIENNE GERMAIN
President, International Women’s Health Coalition
Member of the Asia and Women’s Rights advisory committees of Human Rights Watch and the Millennium Development Goals Project Task Force on Child Mortality and Maternal Health

DAVID L. GOLDWYN
President, Goldwyn International Strategies, LLC
Former Assistant Secretary of Energy for International Affairs

DONALD GREGG
Chairman, The Korea Society
U.S. Embassy, Burma (1964-1966)
Ambassador to Korea (1989-1993)

JAMES B. HEIMOWITZ
President and CEO, JBH Consulting Group, Inc

J. WILLIAM ICHORD
Vice President, Government and International Relations for Unocal Corporation

EDWARD KLEIN
Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair Magazine

JOSHUA KURLANTZICK
Foreign Editor, The New Republic

TOM LANTOS (D-CA)
United States House of Representatives

RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN)
United States Senate

TOM MALINOWSKI
Washington Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
Senior Director, National Security Council (1998-2001)

MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY)
United States Senate

ROBERT B. MILLMAN
Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health, Cornell University
Director of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, New York Presbyterian Hospital

ARYEH NEIER
President, Open Society Institute
Former Executive Director, Human Rights Watch

MARY ANNE SCHWALBE
Board member, the International Rescue Committee
Former Executive Director, Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children

BROOKE L. SHEARER
Consultant

GEORGE SOROS
Open Society Institute
Chairman, Soros Fund Management LLC
Author of seven books, most recently George Soros on Globalization

DAVID I. STEINBERG
Director of Asian Studies, Georgetown University
Author of Burma: The State of Myanmar (2001)

ROSE STYRON
Poet, journalist and human rights activist
Former chair, Amnesty International's National Advisory Council

MONA SUTPHEN
Managing Director, Stonebridge International LLC
Former Special Assistant to National Security Adviser Samuel Berger

KENNETH WOLLACK
President, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs

TASK FORCE OBSERVERS

MORTON I. ABRAMOWITZ
The Century Foundation

JOHN BRANDON
The Asia Foundation

MATTHEW P. DALEY
U.S. Department of State

NANCY ELY-RAPHEL
U.S. Department of State

ERIC P. SCHWARTZ
Council on Foreign Relations

CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH (R-NJ)
United States House of Representatives

NANCY E. SODERBERG
International Crisis Group

DANILO TURK
United Nations Department of Political Affairs


Contact: Lisa Shields, Vice President, Communications, (212) 434-9888