The U.N. Security Council adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years to demand an end to violence and urge the military junta to release all political prisoners, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar has been in crisis since the army took power from Suu Kyi’s elected government in February last year, detaining her and other officials and responding to pro-democracy protests and dissent with lethal force.
The 15-member council has long been split on how to deal with the Myanmar crisis, with China and Russia arguing against strong action.
They both abstained from the vote on Wednesday, along with India, perhaps concerned of the implications on their own population issues.
China had wanted the Security Council to adopt a formal statement on Myanmar, not a resolution.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow did not view the situation in Myanmar as a threat to international peace and security and therefore believed it should not be dealt with by the U.N. Security Council.
Negotiations on the draft Security Council resolution began in September. The initial text urged an end to the transfer of arms to Myanmar and threatened sanctions, but that language has since been removed.
The adopted resolution expresses “deep concern” at the ongoing state of emergency imposed by the military when it seized power and its “grave impact” on the people of Myanmar.
It urges “concrete and immediate actions” to implement a peace plan agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and issues a call to “uphold democratic institutions and processes and to pursue constructive dialog and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people.