UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, 57th SESSION
19 MARCH – 27 APRIL 2001
STATEMENTS ON BURMA BY GOVERNMENTS
(extracts from speeches)
EUROPEAN UNION (SWEDISH PRESIDENCY) 18 April
Introduction of the draft Resolution on the "Situation of human rights in Myanmar (L.20)
On behalf of the European Union and all other co-sponsors, I have the honour to introduce under agenda item 9 the draft resolution entitled "Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar".
First of all, I would like to warmly thank the former Special Rapporteur, Justice Rajsoomer Lallah, and express our deep appreciation for the way he performed his difficult task and we regret that he was never able to visit Myanmar. I would also like to take the opportunity to welcome the recent appointment of the Special Rapporteur, Professor Sergio Pinheiro, and wish him all success in fulfilling his mandate
The draft resolution before us today reflects the outcome of constructive consultations with interested delegations, including the delegation of Myanmar, based on the findings of the report of the former Special Rapporteur and on the preliminary observations of the newly appointed Special Rapporteur on his exploratory visit to Myanmar in the beginning of April this year. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who took an active part in the shaping of this resolution.
The draft resolution draws the attention to a range of human rights violations occurring in Myanmar: civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The Commission deplores the deterioration of the human rights situation in Myanmar, the continued pattern of gross and systematic violations of human rights in Myanmar, including extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, enforced disappearances, rape, torture, inhuman treatment, mass arrest, forced labour, forced relocation and denial of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement.
Furthermore, the Commission once again expresses its grave concern about the situation in Myanmar especially at the systematic policy of the Government of Myanmar to persecute the democratic opposition, National League for Democracy members and their families, as well as ethnic opposition parties, and at the use by the government of intimidatory methods such as arbitrary arrest and detention, abuse of the legal system including harsh long-term prison sentences, which has forced many to refrain from exercising their legitimate political rights.
However, the resolution also welcomes some recent positive developments taken place in Myanmar since the last session of the Commission. The Commission welcomes the assistance of the Government of Myanmar in facilitating the recent exploratory visit by the newly appointed Special Rapporteur to Myanmar, as well as expresses hope that he soon will be able to return to Myanmar and conduct a field mission furthering his contacts with the Government and all other relevant sectors of society and thus enable him fully to discharge his mandate. The Commission also welcomes the initiation of contacts between the Government and Aung San Suu Kyi and hopes that such talks will be extended at an appropriate time to include inter alia representatives of ethnic minorities and thereby will facilitate broad-based and inclusive national reconciliation and restoration of democracy.
It is our hope that, after discussions with interested delegations, including that of Myanmar, the draft resolution can again – as in previous years and also in the General Assembly – be adopted without a vote.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
(Ambassador George Moose)
General Comment: L.20, Burma. 18 April 2001)
My government strongly supports this resolution, and has co-sponsored it again this year. We believe the resolution accurately describes the many and significant human rights challenges faced by the people of Burma. The resolution also notes a few recent suggestions that the government of Burma may be beginning to realize the importance of listening attentively to the human rights concerns of the international community and starting to discuss these issues seriously with its own people.
Mr. Chairman, while supporting this resolution, I would like to note two areas of concern about the text: first, in Operative paragraph 4(e), we regret that the language criticizing Burma for recruitment of minors into the Burmese armed forces was not more legally precise. The Resolution implies that all recruitment of children, even voluntary recruitment of 17 year olds, is deplorable. That, however, is not the international law standard. The Resolution should have, instead, called upon Burma to comply with international standards with respect to its military recruitment practices.
Secondly, in the same paragraph we believe it would have been more precise to state clearly that, as a PARTY to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Burma has undertaken an international obligation to harmonize its laws with that Convention, It is precisely that Convention’s voluntary ratification by Burma that forms the basis for the criticism made by the Commission in this resolution.
NEW ZEALAND (date?)
Regarding Myanmar, New Zealand welcomes positive developments there including the resumption of contacts between the leader of the National League for Democracy, Aung Suu Kyi, and the Myanmar authorities, and the release of some detainees, The overall political and human rights situation remains of serious concern, however, and there is still a critical need for constitutional reform, progress towards democracy and better standards of human rights observance.
Australia welcomes the developing discussions between Burma’s State Peace and Development Council and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We welcome the appointment of the UN Special Rapporteur on Burma – and the news of his current visit. We strongly encourage the Burmese Government to continue cooperating with the Special Rapporteur. However, we remain disturbed about the overall human rights situation, particularly continued reports of forced displacement, forced labour, and disproportionate prison sentences. We call on the Burmese Government to release all political prisoners. As part of our own efforts to address these problems, we are working with Burma on human rights education to prepare for institution building.