A day after the release of an independent United Nations investigation into alleged human rights abuses carried out against Rohingya Muslims, Secretary General António Guterres on Tuesday called for the Myanmar government to be held accountable for "one of the world's worst humanitarian and human rights crises."
The report, released in Geneva on Monday, contains accusations of murder, imprisonment and sexual violence against the Rohingyas, carried out by the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, under the guise of a crackdown on terrorists, and against a backdrop of impunity that effectively placed military leaders above the law.
"I believe this report's findings and recommendations deserve serious consideration by all relevant United Nations bodies," Gueterres said at a meeting of the UN Security Council. "Effective international cooperation will be critical to ensuring that accountability mechanisms are credible, transparent, impartial, independent and comply with Myanmar's obligations under international law."
US Ambassador Nikki Haley told her colleagues they "must hold those responsible for the violence to account."
But a representative from China said the United Nation should have a gradual and persistent approach.
"Given the current situation, the international community should cherish the hard-earned progress and the full understanding to the great difficulties faced by countries concerned," Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Wu Haitao said, "and continue to provide constructive assistance instead of simply putting pressure on them."
The meeting also featured an impassioned plea from famed actress Cate Blanchett, a UN goodwill ambassador for refugees who visited a Bangladesh camp. What she saw and heard were shocking, she said.
"There are no shortcuts. There are no alternatives. We have failed the Rohingya before. Please, let us not fail them again," Blanchett said.
Myanmar disagreed with the report.
"I would like to reiterate that we did not accept the mandate of the mission because we have our concern about the mission's impartiality," Myanmar Ambassador to the UN Hau Do Suan said. "Besides, I have serious doubt on the intention of the timing of the release of the report."
He said the government does not condone human rights abuse, and will take action, if there is evidence of such crimes.
The government is united with the people to achieve peace, he said.
"We shall seek reconciliation, but not retribution. Compassion, but not hatred. Integration, but not segregation," he said.