The Security Council today (24 October 2018) heard the Chair of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, present the group’s latest report, which details “massive human rights violations in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States”. The meeting was unusual: The Security Council rarely hosts bodies established by the Human Rights Council. Indeed, today’s session only took place after a move to prevent it failed to garner enough votes among Security Council members.
The FFM briefing is further evidence of the intense international focus on Myanmar. It came on the heels of the visit to the country by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener. The trip, from 10 to 20 October, was her third to the southeast Asian nation since her appointment on 28 April 2018. As she was leaving Yangon last Saturday, the Special Envoy recalled that she had emphasized that accountability and inclusive dialogue were two important pillars for national reconciliation in Myanmar, a view she reiterated today to Politically Speaking.
“Credible fact-finding is the first step towards accountability,” Ms. Schraner Burgener stressed.
During her Myanmar visit, the Special Envoy looked at the situation in Rakhine state, where she visited camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and relocation sites to gauge progress made since her first visit in June. But she also went to Kachin state, where she met with IDPs, some of whom have been displaced since 2011, without job prospects or hope of returning to their places of origin due to land-mines and lack of security. She took note of the increasingly limited humanitarian access which affected the availability of medical assistance and aid. “In Kachin alone,” she said, “there are more than 100,000 displaced people, some of whom have not had access to humanitarian aid for almost two years.” The Special Envoy said that efforts had been made to provide more learning facilities in IDP camps and encouraged counterparts to continue providing greater access to joint education opportunities. She also underlined the need for dignified and durable solutions to end displacement in line with the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
“Closing the IDP camps is not enough,” she said. “The full human rights of the IDPs need to be respected, starting with education, health and freedom of movement. They have to be able to live in safety and security. This will be the most positive incentive for the refugees in Bangladesh to return. Knowing that the UN and its partners are present at their places of return, will give the returnees confidence and trust in the process.” She also emphasized the need for greater domestic and foreign investment in the Rakhine region, which is one of Myanmar’s poorest and urgently requires inclusive development.
On the occasion of the third anniversary of the signing of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, Ms. Schraner Burgener expressed deep concern about the intensified fighting in the north of the country. She acknowledged the efforts made by the Government to start informal negotiations with the signatory ethnic armed organizations, but stressed that “there is no quick-fix in a peace process. Patience and willingness to compromise will be needed on all sides, as well as generosity.” She called for greater inclusiveness and underlined her readiness to engage closely with all stakeholders in helping advance the peace process towards a homegrown solution.
The Special Envoy said she will continue to focus her efforts on strengthening engagement between Myanmar and the international community towards a more tolerant, democratic and inclusive society that recognizes diversity as an asset.
Title picture: UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener visits camp of internally displaced people to assess conditions and engage directly with affected population. UN Photo