IN OTHER WORDS : Junta’s case

Having placed the case of Myanmar’s military junta on the formal agenda of the Security Council earlier this month, the United Nations has an opportunity to show that it can be something more than an impotent debating club.

If in the waning days of his tenure UN Secretary General Kofi Annan exercises the right combination of firmness and finesse with Myanmar’s military dictators, he can help protect human rights, democracy, and regional security in Asia. Moral persuasion and diplomatic pressure are the means of dealing with the junta’s violations of human rights and its threats to regional peace and security. Annan must be careful, however, in the way he exerts the UN’s soft power.

Last May, he sent UN envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, to Myanmar, where he met Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi as well as many of the junta leaders. Annan shouldn’t allow Gambari to undertake a return trip to Myanmar without a Security Council resolution that spells out clear and reasonable demands for the junta regime. That should include the release of all 1,100 political prisoners in Myanmar, including Suu Kyi and fellow leaders

of the National League for Democracy, the party that won 82 per cent of parliamentary seats in a 1990 election that the junta has refused to honour ever since. — The Boston Globe