Cyclone Nargis has thrust Myanmar into the public spotlight, as pressure increases to allow foreign aid to help cyclone victims.
In February, Myanmar had announced its intention to hold a democratic referendum on a draft constitution this month, and to hold democratic elections in 2010. Immediately prior to the cyclone, on May 2, 2008, the U.N. had taken official notice of Myanmar's intent and encouraged an open process. However, today the U.N. is urging Myanmar to delay this process.
Myanmar is being monitored by the United Nations for human rights violations. On March 18, 2008, the UN
Security Council held a meeting during which Ibrahim
Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Myanmar, reported on his March 6 - 10, 2008 visit
Myanmar. Mr. Kyaw Tint Swe, the government representative from Myanmar,
was present and also spoke at the meeting. The meeting was transcribed
in S.PV/5854, the provisional record of the public briefing.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has spoken many times to the human rights situation in Myanmar. Most recently, on March 28, 2008, the Council adopted resolution A/HRC/7/L.36 wherein the Council strongly deplored the "ongoing systematic
violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of
Myanmar" and extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and
protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. In a separate but related resolution A/HRC/7/L.37, the HRC, in accordance
with Commission on Human Rights
resolutions 1992/58 and 2005/10 of 14
April 2005, extended for one year the the Special Rapporteur's mandate, and urged, inter alia, the Government of Myanmar to "cooperate
fully with the Special Rapporteur and to respond favourably to his
requests to visit the country and to provide him with all information
and access to relevant bodies and institutions necessary to enable him
to fulfill his mandate effectively."
Watch the U.N. Human Rights Council, 7th Session UN Webcast on the two resolutions: the "Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar" (A/HRC/7/L.36), and "Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar" (A/HRC/7/L.37). both from March 28, 2008 at the Palais de Nations in Geneva. See also, an archived video of "The Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar" from October 2, 2007 at the Palais de Nations in Geneva.
Find Security Council and other UN documents related to Myanmar on the website of the Security Council Report - Myanmar. SCR is an NGO headquartered in New York City.
The Yale Law Library collects human rights and interdisciplinary materials
pertaining to Myanmar; they are cataloged and located with other human
rights publications or social science materials on the Upper East Side rather than in the
Myanmar/Burmese legal collection (KNL) on the Lower East Side. If you
conduct a Morris Subject Heading search: Human Rights - Burma,
you'll return 26 hits. You can then sort Newest First and you'll find
several books written in the last few years, including a 2008
publication entitled Promoting Human Rights in Burma: A Critique of Western Sanctions Policy.
The Yale Law Library has a 2005 volume of Myanmar Laws, our most current compilation of laws from Myanmar. This is an English translation of the yearbook of Myanmar laws originally published in Burmese. You will find older materials if you do a Subject Heading search on Morris: Laws - Burma. Note that the laws of Myanmar are still cataloged by Library of Congress using Burma rather than Myanmar. Why is that? During a 2006 interview, Barbara Tillett, chief of the Library of Congress Cataloging Policy and Support Office, explained: "The Library of Congress is the national library for the United
States and to some extent we reflect US policy (for example using Burma
not Myanmar)." Read the BBC's take on this issue. You will see that our collection of law from Myanmar is quite small; there is not a lot being published nor do we heavily collect from this country. See our Country-by-Country guide to foreign legal research: Myanmar, for more print and electronic resources.
For assistance researching Myanmar law, please contact the reference team.