23 September 2016

All Stakeholders in Myanmar Must Show Flexibility, Mutual Accommodation in Nation-building Efforts, Secretary-General Tells Partnership Group

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at a meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar, in New York today:

Welcome to this Meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar.  Thank you all for your participation.  I welcome His Excellency Kyaw Tin, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, to this meeting in New York today.

I held productive talks in Naypyidaw last month with Myanmar’s top leaders during my fifth visit to Myanmar as Secretary-General.  The overwhelming popular mandate that the people of Myanmar have given to the new Government is a sign of the trust and confidence they have placed in the National League for Democracy.  It is also recognition of their immense struggle and sacrifice over the years.  I was also encouraged by their recognition of the need for continued dialogue between all stakeholders, including the military and civil society, with a view to promoting greater ethnic, political, religious and gender inclusiveness.

The project of nation-building in Myanmar is far from over.  But, there are already concrete and promising results.  As Myanmar moves to consolidate democracy, advance justice and ensure durable peace, human rights and sustainable development for all its peoples, it will need sustained engagement, support and encouragement from the United Nations and the international community.

My participation in the Twenty-first Century Panglong Conference highlighted the commitment of the United Nations, especially in the area of national reconciliation.  The goal of a federal union based on democratic equality, power‑sharing and prosperity for all is realistic and achievable.

In order to reach that goal, all stakeholders must proceed on a unified track of political dialogue and negotiations, addressing issues equitably and fairly.  I urge all sides to show flexibility and mutual accommodation.

The United Nations will remain a respectful partner as the peace process deepens.  During my recent visit, I also discussed the importance of addressing the complex challenges in Rakhine, one of Myanmar’s poorest regions.  I conveyed the strong international expectation that urgent steps will be taken to end discrimination and improve the desperate situation of displaced people who are confined to camps with severe restrictions on their freedom of movement.  In the longer term, I stressed that core issues, including that of citizenship and legal status for the Rohingyas, must be addressed.

Myanmar’s leaders are aware of the expectations of the international community.  The decision to establish an Advisory Commission on Rakhine, chaired by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, is a demonstration of their commitment to make progress on this issue.

The whole United Nations system, with our partners in the international community, stands ready to extend our support and assistance, while respecting domestic primacy.  We are at a unique moment for progress on addressing human rights issues in Myanmar, including political prisoners, restrictive laws that the NLD [National League for Democracy] opposed in the past and land confiscations.  Institutional measures to combat discrimination and promote a more tolerant and inclusive society will be essential.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has many years of expertise in creating frameworks and systems to support countries in meeting their human rights obligations.  I repeat my call for the Government to make use of these resources by establishing an OHCHR country office with a full mandate, as soon as possible.

This Partnership Group has played an invaluable role in supporting Myanmar on its journey to advance peace, democracy and human rights.  Myanmar’s reform process should bring about further progress in these areas and should include the normalization of the country’s engagement with the international community.  I believe it is now timely to consider winding up this forum, while exploring ways to continue your constructive engagement with the Myanmar authorities.

As this will be my last meeting of the Partnership Group, I take this opportunity to thank you all for your cooperation over the years.  I would also like to thank my Special Adviser, Vijay Nambiar, for his tireless mediation and quiet diplomacy.

Ten years ago, when I was appointed to this position, the holding of peaceful, democratic elections in Myanmar was a distant dream.  Last year, the people of Myanmar made it a reality.  I am sure you share with me a feeling of enormous privilege to witness and play some small part in this journey.

For information media. Not an official record.