Can we talk about human rights yet?

Discussing Myanmar’s invitation for the UN envoy to the country, Ibrahim Gambari, to visit the country, Louis Charbonneau of Reuters writes:

Security Council diplomats in New York say that enough time has past since Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar two months ago, leaving 138,000 dead or missing, and that it is time to ratchet up the pressure on the junta to comply with council demands that it improve the state of human rights and democracy.

It’s hard to say whether this is due to Charbonneau’s peculiar way of phrasing this sentence, or whether Security Council diplomats are actually thinking along these lines on the matter, but there is something objectionable in the notion that the UN needs to wait “enough time” after a major humanitarian disaster to continue promoting human rights and democracy in a member country. Myanmar’s obstruction of relief efforts did indeed make delivery of humanitarian aid an immediate priority, but this should not be seen as in exclusion of human rights concerns. Rather, the two are tied up quite intimately.

At any rate, it’s far from certain whether Myanmar’s most recent invitation will result in open access for Gambari, or whether the country’s leaders will repeat past practice.

Gambari has said his most recent visit to Myanmar was a disappointment and yielded no concrete results. One of the problems was that he was unable to meet senior junta leaders.