The Impact of Counterterrorism Measures in Myanmar

Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur


The Myanmar military has a history of viewing civil society as an adversary. The military sees it as a distraction from their objective of maintaining state power and believes Western governments are behind the support for civil society. Public officials have continued to repress civil society while simultaneously using civil society organizations to give the illusion of enabling governance and promoting a positive collaborative image. In reality, the government has worked to subjugate CSOs by co-opting, restricting, or eliminating them, as well as relying on other forms of oppression to control civic space.

It is evident that the coup and its aftermath have severely constricted civic space and the operational environment for CSOs in Myanmar. With the current restrictions on civil society, the humanitarian and socio-economic development work implemented by CSOs has been set back considerably. In this briefer, civil society organizations, the Hope and People’s Empowerment Foundation,  outline the impact of counterterrorism measures on civil society, as well as recommendations on how the international community and UN can support civil society in Myanmar.

  • The UN should align with CSOs, NGOs, and other international partners to ensure verified reports on violations of civic space by the regime are accepted across the various UN-system reporting structures.
  • The UN and international partners should consider that systems like FATF recommendations and digital surveillance can have perverse effects in countries like Myanmar, where the junta unlawfully seized state power and has used these tools to oppress the opposition and civil society.
  • The UN should highlight current laws, particularly the counter-terrorism law and its amendments, which are being weaponized to arrest and imprison pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders. UN actors and other governments should pressure the junta to stop them from further weaponizing these laws.
  • The international community, including the UN Security Council, should recognize that the Myanmar military and SAC have committed terrorist acts.

Read the full assessment here.