Police officers Yangon

Police officers advance towards the protesters during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. A massive crowd took to the streets to protest against the military coup and demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. (Santosh Krl/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The military coup that took place in Myanmar on February 1 was met with shock and condemnation. It has led to the largest protests in the country for decades. And yet there is a sense that history is repeating itself in Myanmar, as the military has regularly thwarted democracy and violated human rights and been able to get away with it.

The international community has appeared almost powerless, with the military junta able to crackdown on dissent with impunity. The familiar playbook has been rolled out including statements, resolutions, and sanctions, but with limited impact on the unfolding events. Those actors able to influence events, such as China, have been unwilling to act, which has likely been part of the military’s calculus.

There is an urgent need to rethink how to hold to account those responsible for human rights violations not only in Myanmar, but also in other countries where either electorally defeated leaders or the military ignore democratic norms. Read more