Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council this afternoon adopted a resolution in which it strongly condemned the alleged systematic and gross violations of human rights and abuses committed in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine state, notably against persons belonging to the Rohingya Muslim community and other minorities, and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to track progress concerning the human rights situation of Rohingya people, and to provide oral updates to the Council for a period of three years.
In the resolution on the human rights situation of the minority Rohingya Muslim population and other minorities in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, three against and nine abstentions, the Council called upon the Government of Myanmar to ensure the protection of the human rights of all persons in Myanmar, including persons belonging to the Rohingya Muslim community and other minorities. It requested the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive written report on the situation, including on the level of cooperation and access given to the Fact-Finding Mission and other United Nations human rights mechanisms, the implementation of the present resolution, the findings and recommendations of the United Nations system on the situation of human rights of Rohingya people in Rakhine state and recommendations on a future course of action, to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session, and to submit the report to the General Assembly for its consideration.
Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, said that with the adoption of yet another country-specific resolution, it was regrettable to see that the collective efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe were slowly drifting away from the principles of non-politicization, objectivity and impartiality. Myanmar must be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem, and the international community must avoid fanning the flames on the ground. Some elements of the resolution infringed on the sovereignty of Myanmar and others were far from the truth. Myanmar disassociated itself from the resolution, noting that the complexity of the issues in Rakhine state was immense, and the international community must get a better understanding of the situation there.
Before the Council adopted the resolution, it continued its general debate, in which speakers stressed that peace, stability, harmony and reconciliation among all the communities in Rakhine state must be urgently achieved, and noted that there were no easy solutions for this difficult and complex situation with roots dating back more than half a century. Many stated their support for the agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on the return of the Rohingya to their places of origin in Rakhine state; they stressed the duty of the Government of Myanmar to provide them with all necessary security guarantees, and its responsibility to ensure that all returns were voluntary, safe, sustainable and dignified. Others expressed concern about this agreement which sought to hasten the return of Rohingya to an unsafe environment in which the commission of further atrocities remained highly likely. Before any safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees could take place, all abuses against Rohingya must cease and all perpetrators of atrocities committed since October 2016 must be held accountable, they stressed.
Speaking in the general debate were Estonia, Turkey, Kuwait, Spain, Denmark, Jordan, Russia, Senegal, Australia, Singapore, Luxembourg, Libya, Greece, Austria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Norway, Lebanon, Sweden, Iran, Costa Rica, Italy, Viet Nam, Iceland, Bahrain, Israel, Algeria, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Uruguay, Sudan and Azerbaijan.
The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Alliance Defending Freedom, Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, Asian Legal Resource Centre, Human Rights Watch, Asian Forum for Human Rights Development (joint statement), Plan International, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, World Jewish Congress, United Nations Watch, Save the Children (joint statement), International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme, International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue, and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh took the floor to introduce the text.
Speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote were China, India, the Philippines, Japan, and Ecuador. After the adoption of the resolution, Bangladesh spoke on behalf of the Core Group of sponsors, and the United States, Egypt and Indonesia took the floor in an explanation of the vote after the vote.
The special session opened this morning and a summary of the morning meeting can be found here.
This was the Human Rights Council’s twenty-seventh special session. Documentation relating to the special session is available on the Human Rights Council webpage.
The thirty-seventh regular session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 26 February to 23 March 2018.
Estonia was very concerned about rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture, killings, and the use of landmines in Rakhine state, and stressed the need to investigate all the alleged violations and bring to justice those responsible. Myanmar should provide full and unfettered access to the Fact-Finding Mission; ensure safe, voluntary and sustainable return of the refugees; and address the root causes of the crisis in order to ensure long-term stability in Rakhine state.
Turkey believed that the situation in Rakhine state remained an important humanitarian crisis which might have serious implications for the region and beyond. With the recent exodus, the total number of Rohingya in Bangladesh exceeded their number in Myanmar; the fact that almost one million people had to live in very difficult conditions in the camps meant that this issue could be hijacked by the radical elements such as Daesh and so engender a serious threat to regional and even global security.
Kuwait was deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis of the Rohingya in Myanmar and said that its Government and civil society had extended a helping hand, including through the donation of $ 1 million for the humanitarian relief. The international community should shoulder its responsibility in handling this humanitarian emergency and ensure non-recurrence, while Myanmar must shoulder its duty to protect the Rohingya and cooperate with the Fact-Finding Mission.
Spain noted with concern that human rights abuses continued in Rakhine state, and called for an end of all violations against the Rohingya and for an investigation of all abuses and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Spain welcomed the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to bring the refugees home, and stressed the importance of support by the international community to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya.
Denmark remained deeply concerned about the situation in Rakhine state in Myanmar and the reports of grave human rights violations and abuses by Myanmar’s security forces. It encouraged the Government to cooperate with the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission to ensure credible investigations of alleged human rights violations and to hold all perpetrators accountable for the committed atrocities. It was essential to promote trust and understanding of the citizenship verification process.
Jordan condemned all the violations of human rights in Myanmar and called for the repatriation of all minorities. Jordan insisted on providing every assistance to vulnerable people. Jordan had been active in convening the special session in order to put an end to the bloodshed in Myanmar, which should shoulder its responsibilities in line with international law. Jordan reiterated its principled opposition to crimes committed against innocent victims.
Russian Federation shared concern about the crisis in Rakhine state in Myanmar, caused by the terrorist acts of Rohingya terrorist fighters. It welcomed the recent stabilization of the situation in Rakhine state, and called on all sides to refrain from actions that would further destabilize it. That was the only way to find a solution for the Muslim minority in the country and to respond to the massive displacement of the population to neighbouring Bangladesh. The Russian Federation called on the Myanmar Government to establish conditions for the peaceful coexistence of all communities.
Senegal called for the consensual adoption of the proposed resolution on the human rights of Muslim Rohingya and other minorities in Myanmar. It called on Myanmar to work on reconciliation and dialogue between different communities, and welcomed the agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on the repatriation of displaced people to Myanmar. Senegal also called on the international community to provide urgent assistance to Bangladesh in order to manage the humanitarian crisis.
Australia recognized the complex challenges that Myanmar faced as it sought to consolidate democratic reforms and achieve peace and national reconciliation. At the same time, it was deeply concerned about the events in Rakhine state, including reports of ethnic cleansing. Australia welcomed Myanmar’s efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to affected communities, but called on it to address the underlying causes of the conflict in Rakhine state.
Singapore stressed that peace, stability, harmony and reconciliation among all the communities in Rakhine state must be urgently achieved, and that there were no easy solutions for this difficult and complex situation with roots dating back more than half a century. It was the responsibility of the Government of Myanmar to restore peace, stability and the rule of law in Rakhine state, and to exercise moral leadership on the issue. In the long term, comprehensive and sustainable solutions must be found to address the root causes, which would only occur through reconciliation and constructive dialogue.
Luxembourg underlined the vital importance of independent investigations into all acts of violence and stressed the urgency of taking steps to put an end to violence against the Rohingya. Also imperative was to operationalize the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees who were currently living in inhumane conditions. The Myanmar authorities had a duty to provide the Rohingya minority with all the necessary security guarantees.
Libya was looking forward to the cooperation of the international community in order to achieve this sublime objective and hoped that the decision on adopting the draft resolution could be reached by consensus.
Greece remained alarmed by the reports of human rights violations and abuses taking place in Rakhine state, especially since August this year, which had triggered a massive exodus of Rohingya to Bangladesh. Greece commended the immense efforts of Bangladesh to face the massive influx of over 625,000 Rohingya refugees, and hoped that the agreement on their return to Myanmar would come to fruition, with conditions created for the safe, voluntary, sustainable and dignified return of all displaced Rohingya to their places of origin.
Austria remained deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in northern Rakhine state in Myanmar and reports of serious human rights violations committed by the Myanmar security forces against the Rohingya community. It called on the Myanmar authorities to immediately end violence in Rakhine, de-escalate the situation, stop incitement through hate speech, re-establish peace and stability, ensure the protection of all civilians without discrimination, and provide the necessary humanitarian access.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic noted the social progress made by the Government of Myanmar to build a peaceful, prosperous and democratic country, enhancing human rights of people by promoting socio-economic development, and strengthening good governance and the rule of law. It fully understood the actions taken by the authorities to fight terrorist threats in Rakhine state. It also welcomed the positive bilateral efforts between Bangladesh and Myanmar to repatriate refugees and ensure border protection.
Norway noted that it was imperative for the Myanmar authorities to end all violence, ensure full protection of all civilians without discrimination, and fully observe international human rights and humanitarian law. It was vital to ensure humanitarian access to all parts of Myanmar. The Government of Myanmar had to establish a credible and practical process to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of all refugees.
Lebanon expressed hope that the situation of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar would be rectified very soon and that social co-existence of different communities would prevail. It called on the Government of Myanmar to take the necessary measures to comply with its international obligations and to protect the human rights of its citizens regardless of their ethnicity and religion. Impunity had to end as part of equitable justice. Lebanon called for an end to discrimination and hatred.
Sweden called for the end of atrocities in Rakhine state in Myanmar. All affected and displaced persons had to be allowed to return to their homes, in line with international law. Justice and accountability for violations and abuses of human rights were essential for durable peace and reconciliation. Sweden called on the Myanmar authorities to hold to account all those responsible for those acts and provide justice for victims, and to ensure that all people in the country could view their future without fear of violence and intimidation.
Iran was profoundly concerned about the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state of Myanmar, where the Rohingya Muslim community was being targeted by deliberate and systematic violence. It was deplorable that Myanmar had demonstrated such little willingness to pursue a peaceful solution of the crisis and that the situation continued to deteriorate. Iran stood ready to continue to provide the Rohingya with humanitarian assistance.
Costa Rica stressed the mandate of the Council to promptly respond to human rights emergencies, which was the backdrop for this special session. There were clear signs of ethnic cleansing of Rohingya ongoing in Myanmar, said Costa Rica, noting that stripping them of citizenship and rendering them stateless had increased their vulnerability. Myanmar should undertake a reform of the Citizenship Act, cooperate with the international community, and prevent all acts of intimidation against minorities.
Italy called for an immediate stop to violence and for bringing perpetrators to justice, and noted an urgent need for additional humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya. Italy had pledged € 7 million for the period September 2017 to February 2018, for projects to be implemented in Myanmar and Bangladesh by the International Committee of the Red Cross and several United Nations agencies. In the longer term, the root causes of the crisis must be addressed, with a view to national reconciliation, stressed Italy.
Viet Nam called on all parties to engage in constructive and genuine cooperation and dialogue and welcomed the recent positive developments, including the agreement for the return of displaced persons to Rakhine state that was signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Viet Nam stood ready to continue working closely with the international community to assist the two governments in delivering adequate and effective humanitarian assistance, and in promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity in their respective countries.
Iceland remained alarmed by the severe human rights violations in Rakhine state in Myanmar. While welcoming the signing of the repatriation agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar, Iceland strongly condemned the violence that had forced more than 600,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh. It called on the Government of Myanmar to put an end to all violence and to address the situation in accordance with its international obligations.
Bahrain expressed hope that the special session would lead to a peaceful solution that would put an end to appalling human rights violations against the Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Rakhine state in Myanmar. States should be bound at all times by their humanitarian commitments, which was why Myanmar should ensure unfettered humanitarian access to all those in need, and cooperate with the international community to restore justice and accountability.
Israel condemned all acts of violence in Rakhine state in Myanmar, and welcomed the signing of the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh for the return of the displaced Rohingya. Israel was actively considering ways of extending humanitarian assistance to the displaced Rohingya who were currently in Bangladesh, as well as to other people in need among minority groups in Rakhine state.
Algeria voiced concern about the alarming situation in Rakhine state in Myanmar, calling on the Government of Myanmar to take all measures to clarify abuses, end impunity and protect all its citizens, including the Muslim Rohingya. Algeria welcomed the efforts of Bangladesh to host Rohingya refugees and it called on the international community to provide the necessary support.
New Zealand urged the Government of Myanmar to uphold the rule of law; protect all communities from violence, including the Rohingya; lift all restrictions on freedom of movement; and support long-term reconciliation and access to justice. New Zealand was ready to support Myanmar in advancing those goals, noting that all returns should be voluntary and dignified.
Afghanistan was deeply concerned about the systematic violation of the human rights of Rohingya Muslims, which it considered ethnic cleansing, and was shocked by the widespread silence and denial of the violation of human rights of this minority. Afghanistan called upon Myanmar to put an immediate end to this tragedy and bring all perpetrators to justice. The horrific use of rape and sexual violence as a tool in the conflict against innocent civilians in Rakhine state was another inhuman face of this crisis which must be addressed.
Uruguay said that the Human Rights Council could not turn a blind eye to the violence unleashed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar, which was amply documented by the United Nations. Myanmar must stop the violence, bring perpetrators to justice and end impunity, as well as grant access to the Fact-Finding Mission to carry out its mission effectively. Further, Myanmar must provide security and assistance to the Rohingya in this time of need.
Sudan welcomed this special session of the Council in response to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, and expressed concern about the human rights violations and abuses that they and other minorities in Myanmar suffered from. This had become a blatant defiance of the United Nations and its mechanisms which stood paralyzed in front of such violence. A solution to this problem must be found, including through facilitating the voluntary and peaceful return of refugees.
Azerbaijan was seriously concerned about this large-scale forced displacement of the Rohingya Muslims to neighbouring Bangladesh, and grave human rights violations and abuses against them. Azerbaijan acknowledged the challenges that Bangladesh was facing in hosting this large number of refugees and stood in solidarity with this country as it provided help to the refugees. Myanmar should address the root causes of the Rohingya crisis, including through ensuring their full access to citizenship and political and civil rights.
Alliance Defending Freedom highlighted the suffering of Muslims and other religious and ethnic minorities in Myanmar, as well as their consistent and sustained violent persecution that had to be acknowledged by the Council and prosecuted accordingly. The Alliance urged respect for the dignity and rights of each member of society, including ethnic and religious groups. The international community had the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means to protect populations and effectively implement religious freedom.
Amnesty International noted that the attacks on the Rohingya population in Rakhine state had been both systematic and widespread, constituting crimes against humanity. The Rohingya had been living under a State-sponsored system of apartheid which restricted virtually every aspect of their lives and segregated them from the rest of the society. Dismantling that system would be essential to ensure the safe and dignified return of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who had fled Myanmar.
International Commission of Jurists stated that it was encouraging that Bangladesh and Myanmar had recognized the right of displaced Rohingya to return to their homes. However, any provisions for return had to comply with international law, including as regard to non-refoulement. Effective guarantees that all displaced persons would be able to return to their homes in a safe, dignified, voluntary and sustainable manner, without discrimination, was essential.
Asian Legal Resource Centre noted that the key to addressing the ongoing crisis in Myanmar was entirely within the remit of the Government of Myanmar. Fundamental to that was recognizing the rightful claim of the Rohingya to citizenship in Myanmar. Conscious efforts had to be made to build the trust of the victims to safely return to Myanmar, which should welcome open and independent inquiries to understand what had led to the violence.
Human Rights Watch said that the Myanmar security forces’ campaign of ethnic cleansing against ethnic Rohingya in northern Rakhine state had driven more than 600,000 people from their homes, villages and country with massacres, widespread rape, and mass arson. Nothing could restore to the Rohingya what had been taken from them, but the Government of Myanmar should promptly provide adequate restitution or compensation for their lost homes, property and lives.
Asian Forum for Human Rights Development in a joint statement said that the Council should echo the concerns expressed by other United Nations bodies and experts, and call on the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar to include specific recommendations on establishing accountability for alleged gross violations. Finally, the Council must continue to closely scrutinize the situation in Myanmar and review it regularly.
Plan International said that to date, more than 400,000 Rohingya girls and boys who had fled to Bangladesh did not have access to safe learning spaces, and called upon States to scale up their efforts to protect the Rohingya children from all forms of violence; protect their right to safe, inclusive and gender-sensitive education; ensure birth registration of all children; and employ a best interest of the child determination on the potential return of each individual child.
International Federation for Human Rights Leagues was very concerned about the bilateral agreement signed between Bangladesh and Myanmar which sought to hasten the return of Rohingya to an unsafe environment in which the commission of further atrocities remained highly likely. Before any safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees could take place, all abuses against Rohingya must cease and all perpetrators of atrocities committed since October 2016 must be held accountable.
World Jewish Congress strongly condemned the persecution of Rohingya Muslims taking place in Myanmar. It expressed hope that the special session of the Human Rights Council would lead to concrete efforts to stop the discrimination against and persecution of Rohingya Muslims once and for all, and that the perpetrators of atrocities would be held to account.
United Nations Watch reminded of the principle of human dignity which had been trampled on through brutal attacks against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Did Myanmar’s leader forget what she had said when she had received the Nobel peace award? Why had the countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation done so little to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya? Were human beings less important than symbols?
Save the Children International, in a joint statement with Action against Hunger and International Rescue Committee, expressed alarm at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in northern Rakhine state in Myanmar. The words of condemnation of the United Nations had not brought sufficient pressure to bear on Myanmar to bring to an end the abuses or to hold those responsible to account.
International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists noted that the situation of the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state in Myanmar had struck the international community over the previous months. Among the brutalities experienced by Rohingya were overwhelming rates of mass murder, rape and widespread destruction. The grave misconduct of the State authorities rendered their international commitments mere empty statements.
Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme said that the current extermination of the Rohingya was the result of a long-planned, racist and discriminatory policy by the army and secret services of Myanmar. This situation of religious ethnic cleansing represented a genocide for which the authorities of the country were responsible. Myanmar should strictly adhere to the full implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission on Rahine state
International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination said that the violence against the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state had reached unprecedented gravity in recent months. It must be clear that the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh on the return of refugees could not be implemented under the prevailing horrendous conditions – the Rohingya would be returning to a haunting nightmare and a cruel reality. As Myanmar had failed to address the atrocities, this situation must be referred to the International Criminal Court to hold perpetrators accountable.
CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation said that the Rohingya were victims of crimes against humanity and expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights situation of other ethnic and religious minorities such as Kachin, Shand and T’ang peoples. Myanmar should cease all human rights violations and crimes against humanity in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states; initiate prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all human rights violations; ensure full accountability of perpetrators, particularly of crimes against humanity; and ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of the Rohingya.
Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue said that the convening of this special session was a telling statement of this Council that the oppressed Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine state were not alone, that their communities could not be erased from Myanmar’s soil or their identity stamped out, and that refugees had the right to return when it was safe to do so. It was essential to ensure an urgent supply of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine state and to establish accountability of perpetrators of heinous crimes.
International Campaign to Ban Landmines drew attention to the fact that antipersonnel landmines had been planted by the Myanmar army in the border areas with Bangladesh, which had led to casualties among Rohingya refugees fleeing Government attacks on their homes. Various non-State armed groups in Myanmar had used landmines over the past two decades, but they were not believed to be responsible for the newly laid mines along the border with Bangladesh. All parties to the conflict should respect the prohibition of antipersonnel mines.
Action on Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and Other Minorities in Myanmar
In a resolution A/HRC/S-27/L.1 on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, three against and nine abstentions, the Council strongly condemns the alleged systematic and gross violations of human rights and abuses committed in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State, notably against persons belonging to the Rohingya Muslim community and other minorities, including women and children; and calls upon the Government of Myanmar to ensure the protection of the human rights of all persons in Myanmar, including persons belonging to the Rohingya Muslim community and other minorities. The Council requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to track progress concerning the human rights situation of Rohingya people, and to provide oral updates, followed by an interactive dialogue, at the thirty-eighth, forty-first and forty-fourth sessions of the Human Rights Council, with a view to reaching a comprehensive solution of the crisis within three years through the full implementation of the present resolution and Council resolution 34/22. It also requests the High Commissioner to prepare a comprehensive written report on the situation, including on the level of cooperation and access given to the fact-finding mission and other United Nations human rights mechanisms, the implementation of the present resolution, the findings and recommendations of the United Nations system on the situation of human rights of Rohingya people in Rakhine State and recommendations on a future course of action, to present the report to the Human Rights Council at its fortieth session, and to submit the report to the General Assembly for its consideration.
The results of the vote were as follows:
In favour (33): Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.
Against (3): Burundi, China and Philippines.
Abstentions (9): Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Kenya, Mongolia, South Africa and Venezuela.
Introduction of the Resolution
Saudi Arabia, introducing draft resolution L.1, noted that the Rohingya community in Myanmar had suffered violations of their human rights for years. It called on the Government of Myanmar to take all the necessary measures to put an end to incitement to hatred and violence, and to prosecute the perpetrators of crimes. Saudi Arabia expressed hope that the authorities of Myanmar would cooperate with the international community and allow for the safe return of refugees to their homes. Saudi Arabia urged the Council members to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.
Bangladesh, also introducing the draft resolution L.1, reminded that the draft resolution enjoyed support from a wide range of Member States and observer States. The text was a balanced one that highlighted the horrendous situation of the world’s most persecuted people, the Rohingya. It proposed reasonable follow-up actions to prevent the crisis from further escalation. The draft resolution aimed to encourage the Government of Myanmar to address the crisis in a constructive manner. Bangladesh called on all Member States of the Council to adopt the resolution by consensus.
Statement by the Concerned Country
Myanmar, speaking as the concerned country, said that the intended outcome of the special session and its resolution was a clear departure from the principle of mainstreaming and avoiding duplicating efforts. With the adoption of yet another country-specific resolution, it was regrettable to see that the collective efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe were slowly drifting away from the principles of non-politicization, objectivity and impartiality. Myanmar must be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem, and the international community must avoid fanning the flames on the ground. The promotion and protection of human rights should be for all, all people of the globe, irrespective of race, religion or gender. Some elements of the resolution infringed on the sovereignty of Myanmar and others were far from the truth. Using unverified figures was unprofessional, while it was questionable if Myanmar was being considered in good faith. The Government was already implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission for Rakhine state, which brought into question the utility of this exercise. Myanmar had disassociated itself from the Fact-Finding Mission as it was not in line with the situation on the ground and this position had not changed. Myanmar disassociated itself from the resolution, noting that the complexity of the issues in Rakhine state was immense, and the international community must get a better understanding of the situation there.
Explanations of the Vote Before and After the Vote
China, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that it fully understood the challenges faced by Bangladesh, and that bilateral negotiations between Bangladesh and Myanmar were the only solution to the crisis. The signing of the repatriation agreement between the two countries was an important step forward. What was now important was to create favourable conditions and a favourable atmosphere in order to implement the agreement. The draft resolution did not help ease the situation. On the contrary, it could complicate the implementation of the repatriation agreement. Based on that position, China called for a vote on the draft resolution and it would vote against it.
India, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, noted that the Human Rights Council should help Myanmar implement its responsibilities towards its own people. Bangladesh and Myanmar should implement a systematic process of verification to facilitate the repatriation of people to Myanmar. The Council had to encourage the two countries to work together to restore normalcy in Rakhine state. India would abstain from voting on the draft resolution.
Philippines, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, said that the situation in Myanmar had complexities which the international community must recognize. The solutions must be pragmatic and robust and give the State the space to take long-term action to resolve the human rights situation on the ground. The Philippines continued to maintain that the establishment of the Fact-Finding Mission rested on a wrong assumption that the local justice mechanisms were not credible, and that access to justice depended on international mechanisms, thus the request contained in the draft resolution L.1 to the Fact-Finding Mission and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to produce additional reports might not be the best course of action given the lack of resources. The Philippines would vote against the resolution.
Japan, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, highly commended the efforts of Bangladesh to resolve the humanitarian crisis in dialogue with Myanmar. Japan had supported the convening of this special session of the Human Rights Council. Japan had been actively engaged in the consultations on the draft resolution, which regretfully did not reflect the views of Japan. It was necessary to hold a thorough discussion with the international community and Myanmar on fact-finding. Japan would abstain from the vote.
Ecuador, speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, condemned violations of international human rights and humanitarian law wherever they took place and regardless of who the perpetrator was, and in this vein Ecuador condemned the atrocities against the Rohingya in Myanmar. It was important to protect the political and territorial sovereignty and integrity of States, and Ecuador never supported country-specific resolutions. Ecuador welcomed the bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar and believed that it was through such mechanisms that peace and solutions could be found. Ecuador would abstain from the vote.
Bangladesh, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote on behalf of the Core Group, expressed frustration that the draft resolution addressing such a grave human rights and humanitarian crisis had been put to a vote. Members of the Human Rights Council should have treated the crisis in an objective way, rather than look at it from a politicized point of view. It was extremely disappointing that there had to be a vote on the draft resolution whose text was so objective in the view of the Core Group. The Core Group thanked all those who had voted in favour of the resolution. It encouraged Myanmar to protect the human rights of its own citizens.
United States, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, thanked Bangladesh for the leadership in bringing the resolution forward. The lack of citizenship status and the lack of political rights for the Rohingya was a serious concern. The United States encouraged the setting up of a credible international commission to document human rights abuses in Myanmar. It encouraged Bangladesh and Myanmar to carry out any repatriation agreement in line with international law.
Egypt, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, stated that it had co-sponsored the resolution. However, it maintained its position that country-specific resolutions against the will of the concerned country were not acceptable. But in the case of the Rohingya minority, who were being subjected to grave human rights violations, Egypt was of the view that the Human Rights Council could not stand aside. It re-stated its position that the Council was an entity of the United Nations General Assembly and that it should not address issues outside its mandate. Egypt also called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present his report in June 2018 rather than in March 2019, given the severity of the human rights situation in Myanmar.
Indonesia, speaking in an explanation of the vote after the vote, felt that the objective of this special session was to encourage Myanmar to take steps to end the crisis and protect all its population. Indonesia voted in favour of the resolution with an understanding that it would contribute to finding an early solution to this humanitarian crisis and that it would not in any way counter or hamper positive steps on the ground, particularly the bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar for the return of Rohingya refugees. Indonesia would continue to support Myanmar in addressing the humanitarian situation and inclusive development in Rakhine state.
The Council then adopted the draft report of the special session ad referendum and closed the special session.
For use of the information media; not an official record
View this original press release HERE.