Third Committee: Promotion and Protection of Human Rights - Briefing on Myanmar
23 October 2023
New York, United Nations Headquarters
Statement by Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
International IDEA fully supports the efforts of the Assistant Secretaries-General, and the Special Rapporteur in furthering steps toward a solution to the crisis in Myanmar that was triggered by the military’s unconstitutional coup in February 2021, and that has been exacerbated by the military junta’s persistent illegitimate claims to rule the country by force. We would also like to commend the efforts of the Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations, H.E. Amb. Kyaw Moe Tun, for his constructive approach to the work of the UN, while upholding the spirit of the Charter and the basic values and principles of the organization.
The plight of the Rohingya has been well documented and continues to put to shame the global community, as also highlighted by the NUG on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the genocidal attacks against the Rohingya on 25 August 2023. No one should have to live in conditions of protracted displacement, without perspectives, without a future. If “no one left behind” continues to be our rallying cry for the sustainable development goals, the Rohingya represent one of the most vivid reminders that the commitments we make in these halls are only worth anything if these promises are actually implemented. And for years, the Rohingya have been driven into desperation by one broken promise after another.
The United Nations and human rights organizations have highlighted the dramatically deteriorating human rights situation of the Rohingya community remaining in Myanmar, where they are subjected to crimes against humanity by the military forces, increased restrictions on freedom of movement by the illegal State Administration Council (SAC), and lack of access to adequate food, health care, livelihoods, and education, as also reported by the UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Tom Andrews.
The only future of the Rohingya in line with the values and principles of the United Nations is their full return and reintegration to their homes. This is outlined in the commitments made by Myanmar’s legitimate interim institutions based on the Federal Democracy Charter.
Two and half years after the coup, the National Unity Government’s (NUG) efforts in translating its commitments to the Rohingya into action in consultation with the Rohingya community are worth noting. The NUG has recognized that this requires a coordinated approach involving multiple Ministries within the NUG as well as genuine consultation with the Rohingya community.
Moreover, the Rohingya community itself must be supported in its efforts to create institutional structures, while ensuring that they are indeed inclusive and representative and build capacities to enable them to be supported, while ensuring that they participate in the interim institutions currently discussing Myanmar’s future constitution and federal system.
We would also like to emphasize that any future democratic elections in Myanmar should only be held when the conditions are right and with the full inclusion of the Rohingya and other minority groups. Furthermore, elections organized by the military junta cannot be considered legitimate and should not be supported by the international community.
Similarly, governance capacities in Rakhine State must be developed and its diverse communities prepared for the future reintegration of voluntary repatriated Rohingya to ensure stability and foster social cohesion. This requires public awareness raising and education to foster a culture of tolerance, non-discrimination, and human rights protection of all of all people living in Myanmar regardless of their belonging to or identification with a particular group.
The situation of the Rohingya demonstrates clearly the intrinsic linkages between democracy, human rights, non-discrimination, peace and development. Comprehensive and long-term responses are needed, and International IDEA will continue to work with both the interim institutions, such as NUG, the elected members of parliament, and the NUCC and its member organisations, as well as with the Rohingya themselves, to share comparative knowledge and promote the values of inclusion and diversity in Myanmar.