Thank you for taking part in this Ministerial meeting of the Partnership Group on Myanmar.
Since we last met, Myanmar has continued its efforts to implement an ambitious reform agenda which aims to better the lives of all the country’s people.
The country has shown progress in many areas of socio-economic development, national reconciliation and democratization. Myanmar has been expanding regional and global cooperation. Myanmar’s current Chairmanship of ASEAN is one example.
Critical hurdles must be overcome as the country prepares for a general election in 2015.
The role of Parliament will be crucial as the country takes decisive measures on national reconciliation, engages in political dialogue with its diverse ethnic groups, and debates a range of matters including control of hate speech as well as a host of other socio-economic and developmental issues.
For the first time in decades, Myanmar will have data to help address key social indicators. However, some segments of the population were excluded from this vital census especially in Kachin and Rakhine states. These issues will need to be addressed in a genuinely inclusive and constructive way in the near future.
Inclusive and democratic institutions should serve all, including through the development of an independent judiciary and electoral bodies.
Three years ago, President Thein Sein invited ethnic armed groups to join the peace process.
The emergence of a single Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team and a single draft text of a ceasefire agreement are encouraging developments – as is participation of political parties.
In addition, open discussions on issues like power, resource sharing and a federal union based on equality, democracy and self-determination are signs of a serious commitment to a united Myanmar.
Now is the time to move beyond narrow agendas and towards cooperation.
I have been following the developments closely through my Special Adviser who has regularly attended peace talks. The United Nations will continue to play a constructive role.
I remain deeply troubled by the communal situation in Rakhine and in other parts of the country, the continued polarization between the communities as well as the possible eruption of conflict between Buddhist and Muslims. If the underlying causes are left unresolved, the reform process will suffer.
Conditions of the vulnerable populations especially in the IDP camps remain precarious and unsustainable. I highlight the need to address comprehensively the issue of status and citizenship of the Muslim population in Rakhine State -- referred to by the Government as “Bengalis” -- but known as "Rohingya" by that population itself and much of the world.
We welcome the latest Memorandum of Understanding between Médicins Sans Frontières and the Government. We look forward to the early presence of MSF on the ground. The various humanitarian agencies and the United Nations must work together to deliver increased development and humanitarian assistance to all sections of the population in an impartial and equitable manner.
The Government has taken some positive steps. Translating recent commitments into visible action will help ease tensions and create the foundation for a long-term equitable solution.
Substantive progress on these measures in the months ahead will be a test of the Government’s ability to deliver. Meanwhile, the establishment of an OHCHR office with a full mandate would help strengthen Myanmar’s commitment on the promotion of human rights.
I can assure you that the Government and people of Myanmar will have the full support of the United Nations in pursuit of the goals of democratization and in support of universal international humanitarian and human rights norms.
I wish to thank you again for your commitment and support, particularly to the role of my good offices which will continue to play an important role.