Please check against delivery
58th United Nations General Assembly
by His Excellency U Kyaw Tint Swe
Permanent Representative of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations
the Draft Resolution entitled
"Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar"
in the Third
New York 24 November 2003
PERMANENT MISSION OF THE UNION OF MYANMAR TO THE U.N. • 10 E. 77th STREET, NEW YORK, N.Y, 10021 TEL (212)535-1310
I wish to thank you for giving me the floor to explain the position of my delegation regarding the draft resolution entitled "The situation of human rights in Myanmar" contained in document A/58/C3/L.68/Rev.l as amended by the cosponsors at the time of introduction of the draft resolution. . .
This resolution has been for years on the agenda of the Third Committee. It purports to promote human rights in Myanmar. Its content however is based upon unsubstantiated allegations of anti-government groups and does not reflect reality. The truth of the matter is that it is a blatant attempt to interfere in our domestic political process by politicizing human rights.
This year's resolution is even more intrusive and, if allowed to go unchallenged, it will not only harm our national security interest and infringe on our sovereignty but will also create a dangerous precedent that will have far reaching consequences for all the developing countries. Even though the promotion of human rights in Myanmar would need our cooperation, we were not accorded sufficient time to have a meaningful interaction with the cosponsors. We were provided with the draft resolution only on the tenth of this month and were able to have a first substantive informal consultation on the 14th of this month. I wish to thank fellow ASEAN member countries and the ASEAN coordinator for the Third Committee, the delegation of Malaysia, whose support had made this informal consultation possible.
This year's resolution is greatly colored by an unfortunate incident of 30 May 2003. Here, allow me to give you a brief background. My government has been implementing a national reconciliation process — a process that is vital for a Union made up of more than 130 national races. For over forty years my country has had to face internal insurgencies and until recently there were a total of 18 insurgent groups. However, because of our national reconciliation endeavours, 17 of these armed groups are now back in the legal fold. As part of this process the government has also been talking to the Secretary-General of the National League for Democracy Daw Aung San Suu Kyi — a process that had been facilitated by Ambassador Razali Ismail, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations who was providing his good offices.
This process suffered a setback on 30 May when the followers of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and local people clashed around 9 p.m. when her motorcade traveled to the remote township of Dabeyin. It must be stressed here that this unfortunate incident would have been avoided had she heeded the advice of local authorities not to travel to remote areas, particularly at night. This clash should be seen in the background of the strong feelings that she had created among some of the population because she was advocating sanctions — because of her opposition to any external aid or assistance, including humanitarian assistance to the country.
As a result of this clash four persons died and about 50 were injured. The government thus had to take temporary measures and keep Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under safe custody.
The remnants of the insurgents and the exiles took advantage of this unfortunate incident and unleashed a disinformation campaign alleging that this was a premeditated attack by the authorities and that:
(a) Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was wounded in the incident;
(b) The deputy chairman of her party retired General U Tin Oo died; and
(c) Nearly 100 hundred people died and thousands were arrested.
These allegations were proved untrue when Ambassador Razali, after meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, verified that she was safe and sound without even having suffered a scratch. The ICRC visited U Tin Oo and found him also safe and sound.
The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Professor Pinheiro visited my country from the 1st to 8th of this month. He met with the Myanmar authorities as well as with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now back in her lakeside villa. During the interactive debate in the Third Committee, in responding to a question by the US delegate. Professor Pinheiro confirmed that he had been told by both sides that only four people died during this unfortunate incident. The Committee was also informed by Professor Pinheiro that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is no longer subject to any of the internal security laws.
In the interim the government has continued its national reconciliation and democratization process. On 30 August the new Prime Minister of Myanmar in his inaugural address set out a seven-step political programme for democratization — Myanmar's Road Map to democracy. At the recently held 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia, the Leaders of the ten members of ASEAN welcomed these positive developments and supported Myanmar's Road Map.
Despite all these positive developments, we find that this year's resolution on Myanmar contains very disturbing language. We find many elements in the resolution completely unacceptable. But I would like to concentrate only on three paragraphs, operative paragraph 4(a), operative paragraph 7(a) and operative paragraph 9 which in their original formulation would harm our national security interest and infringe on our sovereignty. These are also the elements that would create a dangerous precedent and have far reaching implications on all developing countries as well.
I have therefore briefed my fellow ASEAN Permanent Representatives as well as the Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, members of the Arab Group and the members of CARICOM. My delegation also had bilateral consultations with many delegations to seek their understanding and support. Here I wish to put on record the deep appreciation of my delegation to all those groups and delegations that had expressed understanding and support. It was this support that enabled us to have meaningful discussions with the cosponsors in the last few days.
I take satisfaction in that the new language of operative paragraph 4(a) no longer asks for a UN investigation into an unfortunate local incident, in which according to Professor Pinheiro's confirmation only four people died. As a sovereign country, we are folly capable of conducting our own investigation. In fact, we have already conducted an inquest. This new language has also dropped reference to the consequences of this unfortunate incident for the human rights situation in my country.
We also found completely unacceptable the original language of operative paragraph 7(a), since the language connotes the unacceptable notion that there are other relevant parties to the national reconciliation process in addition to the government and the people of Myanmar. We found this notion — a notion that contradicts the home grown process totally unacceptable. The future of Myanmar must be decided only by the people of Myanmar, We are pleased by the explanation given to us by the cosponsors that the new language "including all relevant parties to the national reconciliation process in Myanmar" indeed refers to the parties residing in the Union of Myanmar.
In this regard I would like to draw the attention of the Committee that the programme budget implication contained in A/C,3/58/1.82 is made on the basis of A/C.3/58/L.68/ Rev.l and not 1 repeat not on the basis of A/C.3/58/L.68/Rev.l as orally amended by the cosponsors on 21 November. My delegation regrets that the Secretariat has not made the PBI of this draft resolution in a proper manner,
As such, the activities mentioned in the programme budget implication are not consistent with the draft resolution that has been amended by the cosponsors, in particular with regard to paragraph 7(a), which no longer mentioned "as well as all relevant parties to the national reconciliation process".
To be consistent with the draft resolution, the proposed activities to be undertaken by the United Nations Secretary-General cannot be those contained in A/C.3/58/L.82 particularly in paragraph 3 and 5. Those activities are contrary to the actual resolution that is before the committee for action. May I in the strongest possible terms state that we can neither recognize nor cooperate with all those activities that infringe on our sovereignty and 'are contrary both to the spirit as well as the letter of the draft resolution.
Operative paragraph 9, which is now
being deleted, is most disturbing. This language, if retained, would create a
dangerous precedent whereby powerful countries can encourage the Secretary-General to
take a Member State to the Security Council to "promote improvement of the
overall situation" in the country concerned. I again take satisfaction in
that this operative paragraph is deleted. I wish to thank all those
delegations that made this possible.
Despite the new language the resolution continues to contain many unacceptable elements. Allow me to cite a few.
Professor Pinheiro began his oral presentation to the Third Committee regarding his most recent visit to Myanmar with the words "I received full and complete cooperation from the government of Myanmar". Yet the operative paragraph 2 (e) mentions "the lack of cooperation shown by the government of Myanmar towards the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Myanmar."
Operative paragraph 4(b) refers to "charges of rape and other abuses of civilians carried out by the armed forces in Shan and other states". 1 again reiterate that these allegations were maliciously fabricated by two well-funded NGOs linked to a former drug trafficking terrorist group and well-funded expatriate organizations. A report of the US State Department identifies
one of the NGOs - 'Shan Human Rights Foundation' as "an organization initially related to the Shan United Army, a narcotic trafficking organization". Regarding these allegations of rape, three independent entities in Myanmar conducted separate investigations and came to the same conclusion that the allegations are false. The findings have already been made public,
The draft resolution again mentioned unsubstantiated allegation of systematic violation of human rights in my country. This is at complete variance with reality. May I reiterate that My government has been arduously working to promote the human rights of our people, including the Right to Development. In our endeavours to promote and protect human rights, we are cooperating with the United Nations through its Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Who has just ended his 6th visit to Myanmar. Professor Pinheiro in his statement to the Third Committee commended the work of the UN community in Myanmar and their partners including the cooperation between the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Myanmar Human Rights Committee. We are also cooperating with the ICRC, and the government has agreed to a proposal of the ICRC for its presence in several states and divisions to provide for humanitarian needs. A delegation from Amnesty International visited Myanmar in 2003 and it had the opportunity to meet senior government leaders and members of civil society, I wish to inform the Committee that Amnesty International will soon be making its second visit to Myanmar at the invitation of the government.
The resolution contains many other elements, which are unacceptable to the Myanmar delegation, A case in point is operative paragraph 4(c), the inclusion of which is also objected to by a number of delegations of ASEAN when ASEAN had consultations with cosponsors on the Myanmar draft resolution.
Operative Paragraph 4(e) calls upon the government of Myanmar to take all necessary steps to pursue cooperation with the International Labour Organization, conveniently ignoring the fact that the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action developed between Myanmar and the 1LO is delayed only because some quarters of the ILO brought up extraneous domestics political issues.
Operative Paragraph 6(c) urges the government to put an immediate end to the recruitment and the use of child soldiers. This again ignores the fact that there is neither a draft system nor forced conscription in Myanmar. The allegation is a result of the preposterous claim by Human Rights Watch that the Myanmar Armed Forces has 70,000 child soldiers. The report. by giving credence to the statement of 25 or so military deserters of dubious credibility, paints a picture that is at variance with reality. The Myanmar Armed Forces is an all volunteer force and the minimum age for enlistment is 18 years. This regulation is strictly enforced. It also tried to shift focus away from the proven fact that a splinter group of narco-traffickers and an armed insurgent group known as the Karen National Union extensively recruit and use child soldiers. It should here be noted that the Special Rapporteur also identified the Karenni National Liberation Army as one of the insurgent groups that engage forced conscription of male villagers including under-age youths.
Here I wish to inform the Committee that the Myanmar Government has invited the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict, Mr. Olara Ottunu to visit Myanmar and that he will visit Myanmar at a mutually convenient date scheduled towards the end of this year.
The present resolution contains a litany of unfounded allegations. Despite the deletion of operative paragraph 8 and 9 and the new language in operative paragraph 4(a) and 7(a), the resolution continues to lack fairness and remains extremely intrusive. We are firmly resolved in our determination to promote the human rights of all the people of Myanmar. We are equally determined to successfully implement our Road Map to democracy. But we will not accept a resolution that has politicized human rights with the intention of exerting pressure on Myanmar's domestic political process and on other matters, which under the UN Charter are within our domestic jurisdiction.
My delegation therefore, totally rejects all the unfounded allegations and dissociates itself from the resolution.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman,