Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Credential Challenge to Continue, Say Exiled MPs

The Irrawaddy News

The Members of Parliament Union (Burma), an exiled group of elected MPs who are heading the campaign to challenge the credentials of the Burmese military junta at the United Nations, have said that they are not deterred by the initial negative response from the UN, and that they would "intensify" their drive to have the junta denied recognition by the world body.

In addition, the “credential challenge campaign” of the Members of Parliament Union (Burma) has hired the services of two eminent US law firms, which will aid and advise it on the legal path to be followed, said Vice-president San San.

In his original letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on September 8, San San challenged the credentials of the military junta to represent the people of Burma at the UN.

Asserting that the Members of Parliament Union (Burma) are the legitimate, democratically elected leaders of Burma, San San said they had appointed Thein Oo as their representative to the UN and as such he should be considered Burma's Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

The office of the secretary-general responded to the letter about a fortnight later, which was interpreted by many that the request had been rejected by Ban.

However, a copy of a letter signed by a senior UN official on behalf of the UN secretary-general indicates that Ban's office has raised technical points regarding legal requirements.

"The secretary-general's role is limited to a technical role in reviewing the formal criteria for credentials set forth in the Rules of Procedure,” said the senior official.

The procedure for the execution, submission and examination of credentials of representatives is set out in rules 27 through 29 of the Rules of Procedures of the General Assembly.

Rule 27 provides inter alia that "the credentials of representatives and the names of members of a delegation shall be submitted to the Secretary-General,” while Rule 28 provides that a committee “shall examine the credentials of representatives.”

"As such, the Secretary-General has decided not to take any action on your letter as it does not comply with the formal legal requirement set out in rule 27," the letter said.

"The Secretary-General, however, has taken note of the contents of your letter which together with its attachments, will remain on file with the Office of Legal Affairs, available for perusal by any member of the Credentials Committee at their request," the UN official said.

Members of Parliament Union (Burma) Secretary Ko Ko Lay said members of the campaign committee are not at all disappointed with the response from the UN.

He said that his team was now aided by a battery of eminent attorneys who were looking into how they can fulfill the legal requirements set out in rule 27.

"Credential challenge is only the first step in a new initiative to use all available international legal and political mechanisms to challenge the legitimacy of the regime and bring to light the multitude of abuses the regime commits against Burmese people," he said.

Encouraged by the support the Credential Challenge Campaign has been receiving from the international community, especially from Western nations, Ko Ko Lay said he was hopeful that they could achieve their goal within a few years.

At the same time, he conceded that none of Burma’s neighbors have been willing to support the committee on the issue.

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