This morning, the Secretary-General convened a meeting of his Group of Friends on Myanmar to discuss recent developments in the country. The last meeting of the Group was held in New York during the 67th United Nations General Assembly in September last year.
Members of the Group welcomed the continued progress in reform but also noted key challenges facing the country that needed to be addressed urgently as it moved on the path of democratization, national development and national reconciliation.
The Group noted in particular, the outcome of the latest peace talks in Kachin. The seven-point agreement contained an explicit commitment by the Government to pursue a political dialogue, as well as to work for the consolidation of a ceasefire between the Government and the Kachin Independence Organization. Many delegations expressed the hope that this would pave the way for a nationwide comprehensive ceasefire and peace process involving all the various ethnic groups in Myanmar.
At the meeting, members referred to the communal violence that swept Rakhine last year and, areas in Central and Northern Myanmar this year. They stressed the urgent need for effective action to punish the perpetrators of the violence, guarantee respect for the fundamental rights of all peoples irrespective of ethnicity or religion, as well as for urgent attention to address the underlying causes of these difficulties, including the issue of citizenship for the Rohingyas.
The Secretary-General expressed his confidence that Myanmar would continue to make all round progress in strengthening its democratic institutions, achieving rapid economic development through reform and opening up, and in forging national reconciliation between the various ethnic groups as well as promoting harmony and cohesion among the communities within the country.
He said the United Nations System as a whole and the Office of the Special Adviser on Myanmar in particular, would continue to support the Government and people of Myanmar in addressing the political, humanitarian and developmental challenges facing the country during this critical transition.
The Group of Friends renewed its invitation to the Government of Myanmar to join in the deliberations of the forum.