Response by the Myanmar Ambassador to the resolution (18 April)
Check against delivery
Statement by His Excellency U Mya Than
Permanent Representative and
Leader of the Myanmar Observer Delegation
to the fifty-seventh session
of the Commission on Human Rights
Response to the draft resolution No. E/CN.4/2001/L.20 of
12 April 2001 under Agenda Item 9
Geneva, 18 April 2001
I have sought the floor to offer some comments on the draft resolution E/CN.4/2001/L.20 entitled "Situation of human rights in Myanmar", submitted by the representative of Sweden on the behalf of the European Union.
Allow me to begin with a brief overview of the latest developments in my
As we enter the twenty-first century, Myanmar has also entered a new phase of its political, economic and social development.
Myanmar's specific characteristics --- its multi-racial society with 135 national races, and its problem of insurgency and maintaining peace and tranquility --- have a bearing on its history and the current political, economic and social developments in the country. Because of these specific characteristics, Myanmar had been bedevilled by a long-standing insurgency problem which lasted from 1948 until recently.
Now for the first time in half a century since Myanmar regained her independence, we have political stability and tranquility throughout the country. 17 armed groups have returned to the legal fold, and only one faction of the Karen National Union (KNU) remains outside the legal fold. The door is indeed open for them to return to the legal fold, and join hands with the Government.
The prevalence of peace and stability in the country has created a favourable condition for economic development. Since the advent of the State Peace and Development Council, Myanmar has registered a sustained and significant economic growth.
Myanmar's economy has registered a healthy average growth rate of 7.2 per cent in the just-completed five-year plan from 1996-1997 to 2000-2001. At the end of the fourth year of the five-year plan, 1999-2000 the economy of Myanmar increased 1.32 times and per capita income rose 3.3 times, compared with those of the basic year 1995-1996. The economic growth rate at the end of the five-year plan will rise 2.2 times within 12 years, compared with that of 1988-1989.
Moreover, the Government has accomplished infrastructure-building on an unprecedented scale throughout the country. Since its advent in 1988, the Government has completed to-date:
-170 bridges including 5 Ayeyarwady River-crossing bridges;
-43 hospitals, 79 dispensaries;
-35959 primary schools, 2112 secondary schools,
953 high schools; and
-3844 miles of road.
Furthermore, the Government has carried out border area development on an unprecedented scale. The border area development programme encompasses 18 border areas and 67 townships. The Government has spent on this national programme from 1993 to-date Kyats 17122.37 million (approximately US $ 2.9 billion).
Another important national programme, undertaken in parallel with the border
area development activities, is the drug eradication programme, which the
Government is carrying out in fulfilment of its national responsibility as well
as its internationalist duty.
Never in its post-independence history, has Myanmar experienced such a degree of peace, tranquility and national unity, such a sustained high growth rate of its economy, such a large-scale infrastructure-building and such an extensive border area development, as it has since the advent of the State Peace and Development Council in 1988.
These are the concrete facts that speak volumes for the Government's endeavours to develop the country and to improve the well-being and the political, economic and social life of the entire nation. In so doing, the Government is, indeed, most effectively promoting and protecting fundamental human rights and advancing the right to development.
Allow me to recall briefly a number of important steps, taken by the Myanmar Government in the field of human rights in the past one year. These steps include, among others, the following: -
- For the first time in 6 years, the Government of the Union of Myanmar has accepted the visit of the newly appointed Special Rapporteur Professor Pinheiro. The Special Rapporteur's visit took place from 3 to 5 April 2001.
- The Myanmar authorities have fully cooperated with the Special Rapporteur to the extent possible during his visit to Myanmar with the result that the Special Rapporteur's visit turned out to be a success.
- Mr. Razali Ismail, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General also paid a fruitful visit to Myanmar in January 2001. (He had visited Myanmar twice before in July and October 2000.)
- The Government has recently released 85 persons in January and 16 more in March 2001, respectively. This gives the lie to the unfounded allegations of "the increasing repression" by the Government.
- The Government has established a Steering Committee at the highest level, headed by Lt-General Khin Nyunt, Secretary (1) of the State Peace and Development Council and a Human Rights Committee, headed by Col. Tin Hlaing, Minister for Home Affairs. These bodies are carrying out preparatory work and will pave the way for the establishment, in due course, of a full-fledged national institution on promotion and protection of human rights.
- While my country has ceased cooperation with the ILO for the time being in relation to Convention 29 on account of the unfair treatment of my country and the unwarranted imposition of drastic measures under Article 33 of the ILO Constitution, Myanmar has shown its goodwill and its positive gestures. His Excellency U Khin Maung Win, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, came to Geneva, on his way to South America to attend an international conference, and held talks with Mr. Juan Somavia, Director-General of the ILO on 22 March 2001.
- There are also other activities going on in Myanmar by way of promoting human rights and raising the awareness of human rights. The Myanmar Government, in cooperation with Mr. Chris Sidoti, the former Australian Commissioner for Human Rights, has been organizing workshops and seminars on human rights in Yangon from July 2000 onwards.
- There have also been many more positive developments in other areas, as well, in my country in the past one year.
Let me now turn to the draft resolution L.20.
L.20 is a distinct improvement upon the last year's draft resolution.
In particular, the draft resolution, in operative paragraph 1 (b) to (h), welcome:-
- the assistance of the Government of Myanmar in facilitating the recent exploratory visit by the newly appointed Special Rapporteur to Myanmar.
- the initial observations presented to the Commission by the newly appointed Special Rapporteur.
- the report of the Secretary-General on the visit of his Special Envoy to Myanmar.
- the initiation of contacts between the Government and the Secretary-General of the National League for Democracy.
- the release from detention of a number of persons.
- the continued co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The draft resolution, in operative paragraph 2, also notes the establishment by the Government of Myanmar of a preparatory process for a Human Rights Committee and encouraging it to continue this process.
These paragraphs are positive elements.
Despite the aforementioned positive elements, I regret to observe that the draft resolution still remains to be very much a negative draft resolution, containing many unfounded allegations.
The draft resolution, in operative paragraph 3 (b), makes a sweeping conclusion that the composition and working procedures of the National Convention do not permit members-elect of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Parliament), and representatives of national races to freely express their views and to the effect that they do not really contribute to the process of democratization.
This is factually incorrect. For the representatives-elect of the NLD took part in the National Convention process up till November 1995. It was the representatives-elect of the NLD themselves who withdrew from the National Convention of their own accord at that point.
Given the specific characteristics of Myanmar and the prevailing conditions in the country, there is no other way than the process of the National Convention. By convening the National Convention, we are taking progressive and systematic steps to establish a modern, peaceful and developed democratic state in accordance with the aspiration of the people of Myanmar.
The National Convention is a truly representative body, encompassing representatives from various political parties, legally existing in the country, representatives of national racial groups, and representatives from different social strata --- the peasants, the workers, the intelligentsia, the technocrats and the like.
I should like to reiterate here that the National Convention has made significant advances. It has completed 15 chapters and 104 fundamental principles, to be incorporated in the new state constitution. At this juncture, the National Convention is in the midst of the process of building a consensus on power-sharing which is an extremely delicate and sensitive issue for all parties concerned. In view of the delicate and sensitive nature of this question, it is imperative that we proceed systematically and cautiously in order to safeguard the interests of all the 135 national races, residing in the country.
The draft resolution, in operative para 4, still refers to the alleged "deterioration" of the situation of human rights in Myanmar. In the light of the concrete measures and significant steps taken by the Myanmar Government and the positive report in the oral presentation of the Special Rapporteur, the word "deterioration" ought to be deleted.
The draft resolution, in preambular para 3, regrets "the failure of the Government of Myanmar" to cooperate with the former Special Rapporteur Mr. Lallah, while welcoming the cooperation extended by the Government to the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General and the newly appointed Special Rapporteur. As a matter of fact, it should not negate the welcoming positive elements with regretting negative elements.
Moreover, now that cooperation between Myanmar and the Commission on Human Rights has resumed with the recent visit of Professor Pinheiro, the draft resolution should not be backward-Iooking, and should not refer to the past experience which has been overtaken by events.
I have just cited a few instances of negative elements. There are still many more negative elements in the draft resolution and, in fact, most of the texts in the draft resolution except the positive paragraphs I have referred to are negative.
The draft resolution is still a predominantly negative one.
In view of the above, we do not accept that there be any need for a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.
I should also like to place it on the record that negative elements, I have outlined above, are unacceptable to my delegation.
The draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar is still struggling to reach a new plateau of balance and fairness. It is not yet there. It has, indeed, still a long way to go to reach that stage.
For this reason, my delegation dissociates itself from these negative elements in the draft resolution as well as from the draft resolution as a whole.
Nor shall we be a party to the adoption of this draft resolution.
We do hope that the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar next year, if there be any, will be much more improved, and will reflect much more positive elements.
It hears reiterating here what I said in my earlier intervention. We should accentuate the positive and should promote a cooperative approach, rather than a coersive one.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.