Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor delivers statement at the High-Level Segment of the 43rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
(Geneva, 26th February 2020)
Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint Swe attended the High-Level Segment of the 43rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held in Geneva from 24 to 26 February 2020 and delivered a statement on 26 February 2020.
In his statement, the Union Minister stressed that cooperation with the United Nations is a cornerstone of the Foreign Policy of Myanmar. Recalling 27th anniversary of the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, he highlighted that “States have the duty for promotion, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, thus, reinforcing the principle of exhaustion of domestic remedies”.
He added that peace and security, development and enjoyment of human rights are intertwined, so that achievement of national reconciliation and peace is the topmost priority for Myanmar, a country of internal conflicts for 70 years. He also apprised the Council of the Government’s efforts in bringing the ethnic armed groups to the negotiating table as well as achievement and progress made in signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA). He further informed the Council that 4th session of the Union Peace Conference- 21st Century Panglong is scheduled to be held in first four months of 2020.
On the issue of Rakhine State, while sharing the concern of the international community over the conflict which affects all communities, he reaffirmed the Myanmar Government’s commitment in resolving the issue and pointed out that the deliberate attacks of ARSA in 2016 and 2017 not only triggered the humanitarian situation, also derailed the efforts to bring social cohesion, reconciliation, peace and development to Rakhine State. He underscored that “priority now is to expedite the repatriation of verified displaced persons to Rakhine State under voluntary, safe and dignified conditions”. In this regard, he encouraged Bangladesh to show genuine political will, committed efforts and cooperation by strictly adhering to the signed agreements.
Turning to the accountability matter, he reiterated that “the Government of Myanmar firmly stands for principles which are cornerstone of international legal order”. Relating to the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), he informed the Council that the final report of ICOE, based not on narratives but on interviews of close to 1,500 witnesses, was submitted to the President on 20 January 2020, and subsequently, the President Office instructed the Attorney General for further investigation and prosecution. He continued, “Tatmadaw, Myanmar Defence Services have announced that the Office of the Judge Advocate General will take action with military justice procedures if there is credible evidence of any commission of offence by members of Tatmadaw”.
While celebrating the 75th year of the founding of the United Nations, he recalled that Human Rights Council was created to address the weakness and failings of the Human Rights Commission. Moreover, he stated that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process is the best mechanism to address human rights challenges based on equal footing and equal voice. He further informed the Council of the upcoming third UPR review of Myanmar at the 37th session of the UPR working group.
Furthermore, he recalled the huge expectations and aspiration of member states at the time when the Human Right Council was created, saying “we dreamed of a Human Rights Council where all human rights are treated equally where the realization of the right to development is given due priority where sovereignty of nations are upheld ensuring equality of action and scrupulously avoiding double standards where unwieldy mandate or unilaterally extending its power without accompanying due diligence is not allowed where no nation is made to feel its value is decided by the degree of material wealth and political influence it can muster”. “Regretfully this dream has not been realized”, he continued.
He concluded by stressing “Dreams do not become reality unless we work to make it happen” and called on all member states to cooperate, so that dreams will be fulfilled and Human Rights Council will truly become a beacon of hope where all can work in concert for common good - the enjoyment of Human Rights for everyone.