The meeting highlighted that the forthcoming elections in Myanmar represents a milestone in its transition to democracy and should be conducted in a fair, inclusive and transparent manner. Concerns were expressed at the disenfranchisement of voters and rejection of candidatures, especially of Muslim representatives who had qualified for previous elections. Increased recourse to hate speech and communal incitement has exacerbated the polarization between communities on religious grounds. Ultimately, the credibility of the elections and smooth transfer of power will depend on acceptance of its results among the political leaders and the broader population within Myanmar. In regard to the peace process, though key differences still remain, Member States welcomed the perseverance shown by all sides in their effort to stabilise a nationwide ceasefire, build trust and move towards the start of a meaningful political dialogue. All stakeholders were urged to remain actively involved in the next stage of negotiations.
Concerning Rakhine, Member States noted the need for more decisive action on resolving the humanitarian situation in the IDP camps and on the broader issue of citizenship for the Rohingya. Failure to do so could result in more suffering and loss of lives. The recent crisis in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea highlights the need to address root causes, including through regional solutions. While calling for greater commitment by national leaders to tackle institutionalized discrimination in the country, Member States also underlined that the recent enactment of so-called ‘race and religious protection laws’ could be used to curb further the rights of minorities. More active measures are needed to combat hate speech and promote interfaith dialogue, such as those undertaken by the Center for Diversity and National Harmony. Members also reiterated the need for the early establishment of an OHCHR office with a full mandate in Myanmar. In conclusion, they emphasised the need for a coherent approach by the international community during this electoral period and during the process of government formation immediately thereafter.