NEW YORK, USA - The UN has postponed a decision on who will represent Myanmar out of concern that Russia, which has grown increasingly close to Myanmar's coup leaders, will sabotage efforts to reach an international consensus on the crisis-torn country.
In a recent meeting, the UN Credentials Committee, composed of nine UN member states, including China, Russia, and the United States, began meeting. The question is whether Myanmar should be represented by sitting UN Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who was appointed by leader Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government, or by a nominee of the generals who staged the coup that overthrew her government in February 2021.
The committee will present its recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which typically rubber-stamps the advice provided.
The issue of Myanmar's UN representation reflects the additional challenges confronting the anti-coup movement at a time when geopolitical tensions have risen following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the divide between Russia and China on one side and the rest of the international community has widened. Strongman Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have shown less willingness to compromise.
Despite this, a veteran diplomat and former Dutch ambassador to Myanmar, Laetitia van den Assum, believes the US, China, and Russia would prefer not to have a public spat over Myanmar's representation.
"These powers already have enough major issues on their plates." At the same time, China and Russia undoubtedly want Kyaw Moe Tun to go."
Kyaw Moe Tun, who remained in office following the coup, voted this year to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine and to suspend Russia's membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council. He has the support of Myanmar's National Unity Government (NUG), which was formed by the country's elected and now-removed legislators.