Historical archive

Grave situation in Myanmar

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On 1 February, Myanmar’s military carried out a coup against the country’s democratically elected government, detaining members of the Government, politicians, journalists, and representatives of civil society organisations.

‘Norway has clearly condemned the military coup in Myanmar and has demanded the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected politicians, journalists and representatives of civil society organisations. We have also asked those responsible for the military coup to adhere to democratic norms, reinstate the Government and respect the outcome of the November 2020 election, which resulted in a decisive win for Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League of Democracy. We are now reassessing our bilateral relations and our engagement in and with Myanmar,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.   

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide has demanded the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Here they are together at the Asem Meeting in Myanmar 2017. Credit: Frode Overland Andersen, MFA
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide has demanded the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Here they are together at the Asem Meeting in Myanmar 2017. Credit: Frode Overland Andersen, MFA

As a member of the UN Security Council, Norway has worked to include the coup on the UN Security Council agenda. On Thursday 4 February, the 15 members of the Security Council issued a joint press statement on the situation in Myanmar in which they expressed deep concern at the declaration of the state of emergency and called for the immediate release of all those detained. This marks the first time the Security Council members have agreed on such a statement on Myanmar in many years.

‘The press statement from the Security Council on 4 February was a clear message from the global community that those responsible for the coup must respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. The statement is especially important because it has the support of major regional powers such as China and India, along with Vietnam, which is a member of Asean,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

Myanmar is one of the 16 priority partner countries for Norwegian development aid. Norway is involved in a wide range of development cooperation activities in Myanmar, including programmes to increase knowledge on natural resource management, support for humanitarian efforts, human rights and democratisation through UN channels and civil society organisations.

‘In the wake of the military coup we have begun a detailed assessment of our development assistance portfolio in Myanmar. Respect for human rights and democratisation are among the key objectives of Norway’s development cooperation in the country, and we will now consider how these can best be achieved,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.

In 2019, Norway provided NOK 279 million in bilateral development assistance to Myanmar. Furthermore, a proportion of Norway’s unearmarked support to UN organisations goes to Myanmar as well. In 2018, this amounted to a total of NOK 100 million.

Development assistance: 'We will now consider how the human rights and democratisation best can be achieved,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein - here at a visit in Rakhine. Credit: Ane Lunde, MFA
Development assistance: 'We will now consider how human rights and democratisation best can be achieved,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein - here at a visit in Rakhine. Credit: Ane Lunde, MFA

‘Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia. We will give priority to vulnerable groups as well as to ethnic and religious minorities, and we are looking into the best ways to work with the UN and civil society organisations to achieve this in the current situation,’ said Mr Ulstein.

In response to a request from the UK, the Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar on Friday, 12 February. Norway will take active part in the discussions.

‘We are following the developments from day to day very closely. Together with the international community, we will consider the ways we can help to resolve the crisis. The people of Myanmar both need and deserve our attention and support, especially in this very difficult time,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.  

The Security Council press statement on Myanmar is available here: Security Council Press Statement on Situation in Myanmar | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases