The UN OODA Loop
My own views about where the last 24 hours have taken the Burma crisis are at Pajamas Media.
The most important development in Burma over the last 24 hours is that the protest movement has not retreated before the government crackdown. ... The lastest report from Irrawaddy dimly hints that it is the generals who may be starting to crack. Unconfirmed reports from a Western diplomat speculate that the government may try opening negotiations with the opposition and that Senior General Maung Aye, not the nominal paramount General Than Shwe is now in charge.
However things turn out, the next 48 hours will be critical and events will probably develop with extraordinary speed. How does the UN handle situations like this? This article illustrates how international human rights organizations are approaching the problem: by attempting to enmesh the protest movement in bureaucracy and engaging in irrelevant symbolism.
Several countries on the United Nations Human Rights Council have begun making consultations to propose a special session to study the brutal crackdown this week by the military regime in Burma/Myanmar on young Buddhist monks and other demonstrators. ...
Yes, you read that right: 1) consult to 2) schedule a meeting to 3) study the "brutal crackdown this week by the military regime in Burma/Myanmar". That's a three step process undertaken so that they may someday/sometime soon figure out whether eclairs or petit fours go best with coffee at such meetings. And afterward they'll swing into action to consider whether to appoint a special rapporteur to study whether it is advisable to have a special meeting to consider doing something about the Burma/Myanmar problem. If anyone is still alive. The article reveals that in certain circles at least, when action time finally comes it should consist of yet still more talk.
The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Swiss-based conflict-resolution organisation, struck a similar tone, saying "No one side can resolve Myanmar's problems alone."
Leon de Riedmatten, the HD Centre’s representative for Burma, said "It is important at this time of crisis that we remember the serious issues that still need to be resolved so the country can move forward. The issues referred to include the political impasse, ethnic conflict, economic failure and humanitarian decline," he said.
The HD Centre announced that it would "remain on the front line of conflict resolution initiatives" despite "the current negative trends" and the March 2006 closure of the group’s office in Rangoon, which had been opened in August 2000.
The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) urgently called for a special Human Rights Council session to debate the situation and to certify the Burmese authorities’ failure to implement the recommendations set forth by the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro of Brazil.
Yes, you read that right again: "1) debate the situation and to 2) certify the Burmese authorities’ failure to implement the 3) recommendations set forth by the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro of Brazil." Has anything happened yet in this proposed process? The internationalists will be at the center of everything, an odd thought when they apparently lack the sense to operate a dog pound at a poodle-show, let alone try to be dog catchers in world of pit-bulls with spiked collars. But rest assured, they know what's important. Like finding the right logo.
The Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), which is seeking the creation of an international emblem to identify -- and protect -- media workers, "condemned in the strongest possible manner the crackdown on civilians in Myanmar, the killing of a Japanese cameraman, and the expulsion of two other journalists,’’ while calling on the Human Rights Council to hold a special session. Blaise Lempen, the secretary general of PEC, told IPS that the Human Rights Council should include in its discussion the inability of journalists to work in Burma and the death of the Japanese media worker.
There's an entire organization dedicated to creating "an international emblem to identify -- and protect -- media workers". In their words:
La Presse Emblème Campagne, fondée en juin 2004 par un groupe de journalistes basés à Genève, est une organisation indépendante à but humanitaire. Elle souhaite renforcer la protection et la sécurité des journalistes à travers le monde.
A Burmese girl with a gunshot wound.
I wish I could say, "don't worry, the UN is on the way"