Myanmar is passing through a transitory phase after years of military rule. The transition phase has created new opportunities and challenges for the United Nations and the international community to help steer Myanmar towards peace, democratisation and development.
The Department of Political Affairs has provided political guidance and staff support to successive envoys of the Secretary-General tasked with employing his diplomatic “good offices” toward those objectives.
The new government of Myanmar headed by President Thein Sein, which took office after the November, 2010 general elections, has reached out to Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, resulting in the latter’s return to the electoral and political process released a significant number of political prisoners and initiated peace talks with armed ethnic groups, resulting in initial ceasefire agreements.
By-elections to 45 constituencies were held on April 1, 2012 in which the National League for Democracy won 43 seats whereas Union Solidarity and Development Party and Shan Nationalities Democratic Party won one seat each.
The Good Offices of the Secretary General continues to work in pursuance of General Assembly mandated objectives (i.e. respect for human rights, democratic transition and national reconciliation). The Secretary-General’s three-pillar approach of engagement in the political, humanitarian and development areas provides a guiding framework for the Good Offices with regard to its work in Myanmar. This requires an enhanced UN coordination role including among donor countries to maximize political goodwill and the use of available resources.
The Secretary-General has visited Myanmar thrice including recently from 29 April to 1 May 2012 at the invitation of the Myanmar Government. As far as the UN-Myanmar engagement, the Secretary-General in his recent visit has identified six key areas of UN engagement in support of ongoing reforms: census, Global Compact, drug elimination, normalization of UNDP and other country programmes, peace-building support, and human rights.