14 November 2019, New York – Introductory Statement by the European Union at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee on the Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, align themselves with this statement.
The European Union is pleased that we are able to table once again this draft resolution jointly with the OIC. We thank the member states who have co-sponsored this draft resolution.
The text that is presented for consideration today sends a message of compassion and solidarity from the international community to the Rohingya people and to other minorities in Myanmar, including in Kachin and Shan states. It also calls upon the Government of Myanmar to act to end the continuous violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law taking place in the country, to ensure accountability and justice, and to tackle the root causes of these violations and abuses by putting an end to the structural discrimination against the Rohingya and other minorities, and by implementing all recommendations contained in the Annan report.
The resolution addresses not only the human rights of the Rohingya community, but underscores as well our deep concern at the human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by the security and armed forced against persons belonging to other minorities, including in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states.
We all have in mind the detailed findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar pointing to the commission of the gravest crimes under international law; women, children and men have witnessed the murder of family members and friends and have been subject to enforced disappearance, torture, rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of violence. They have been driven from their homes and forced to seek shelter and safety in neighbouring Bangladesh.
The resolution calls for redress and justice for the mass atrocity crimes that have been perpetrated by the security and armed forces in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. It welcomes in that regard the operationalisation of the Independent Investigative Mechanism, which follows the International Fact-Finding Mission and must be given the means and necessary access to play its crucial role in ensuring accountability for those responsible, in particular collecting, consolidating, preserving and analysing evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011. Evidence suggesting the gravest crimes under international law should expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may have jurisdiction over these crimes, including the ICC. The resolution recalls the role of the Security Council in that respect.
The resolution also reminds that much more must be done by the Government of Myanmar to create the conditions enabling refugees and other forcibly displaced persons to return to their places of origin or a place of their choice voluntarily, in safety and dignity, and conducive to their sustainable reintegration. We commend in that respect the way the Government and people of Bangladesh have opened their borders and displayed solidarity to the Rohingya in spite of the country’s stretched resources.
The resolution recognises that the Government of Myanmar has taken some steps towards the solution of the crisis, including for children rights and the closure of IDP camps. It also recalls the establishment of the Independent Commission of Enquiry by the Government of Myanmar, and encourages the Commission to work with independence, impartiality, transparency and objectivity, and to issue an initial report soon. The EU will continue to sustain the democratic transition in the country and to engage with the Government of Myanmar including through dialogues on human rights. At the same time, and notably ahead of the 2020 elections in Myanmar, it remains crucial that the international community continues to send a strong message that we do not accept that those responsible for the past and the ongoing crimes are not held accountable, that we do not accept the spread of hate speech against minorities in Myanmar tolerated by the authorities, and that we do not accept the denial of citizenship and related rights of the Rohingya and other people of Myanmar.
Speaking at the ASEAN Summit last week, Secretary-General Guterres underlined that he remains “deeply concerned about the situation in Myanmar, including Rakhine state, and the plight of the massive number of refugees and internally displaced persons still living increasingly in difficult conditions”. After visiting Cox’s Bazaar last year, the Secretary-General asked the international community to never forget the horrific experience of ethnic cleansing suffered by the Rohingya.
Today, by voting Yes to the resolution, we have the opportunity to send exactly this message.