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Note to Correspondents: Readout of Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar Ms. Noeleen Heyzer’s meetings with ASEAN Chair and ASEAN Special Envoy [31 March to 1 April 2022]

April 1st, 2022  •  Author:   United Nations Secretary-General  •  5 minute read
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In continuation of her close cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Special Envoy visited the Kingdom of Cambodia.  This mission was undertaken against the backdrop of escalating violence throughout Myanmar, as bombings and other excesses committed are compounding multiple vulnerabilities facing millions of people struggling for survival.

The Special Envoy held frank and constructive discussion with the ASEAN Chair His Excellency Mr. Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the ASEAN Special Envoy His Excellency Mr. Prak Sokhonn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with a view to fostering meaningful and effective implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.

This important collaboration has been part of the Special Envoy’s close engagement with all ASEAN Foreign Ministers who, in their February statement, encouraged the ASEAN Special Envoy to coordinate closely with the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Myanmar to ensure synergy.

In her interactions with Member States, including during recent visits to the United Nations Headquarters in New York and Washington D.C., in the Security Council and through various Regional Organizations, the Special Envoy has continued to stress the urgency for coherent international backing of a unified regional approach supportive of a Myanmar-led process reflective of the will of the people.

Recalling the importance highlighted by the Security Council and General Assembly for the Special Envoy to maintain communication and engage intensively with all relevant parties in Myanmar, the Special Envoy shared her comprehensive assessment of the somber ground realities and sentiments among a range of domestic stakeholders as she sought to strengthen complementarity to the work of ASEAN.

In this respect, the Special Envoy’s extensive discussions with the Cambodian Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister focused on helping align the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus with the will and needs of the people, without further delay.  She stressed it was paramount for ASEAN to listen carefully to all voices on the ground in supporting durable peace and national reconciliation.  The Special Envoy emphasized that indicators and results on the ground were urgently needed, adding any goodwill towards protecting the people of Myanmar and their livelihoods needed to be demonstrated in concrete terms.

The Special Envoy highlighted she will continue to amplify the voices of the people of Myanmar and encourage international action based on an accurate assessment of the situation.   She will also continue to engage with all key stakeholders, focusing on helping articulate the bottom-lines and conditions needed for momentum towards any talks about talks in the greater interest of peace, stability and democracy.

Such engagement will include the UN-ASEAN Women, Peace and Security (WPS) platform which will be co-chaired with Her Excellency Ms. Retno Marsudi, Foreign Minister of Indonesia. This platform would advance the humanitarian and protection agenda at the local level, especially for women and children who are disproportionately impacted by the violence, and to amplify the voices and vision of women and young people as agents of change.

The Special Envoy urged the Prime Minister to leverage his influence on Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief to de-escalate violence and serve the greater interests of the people. In the context of her own potential visit to Myanmar, the Special Envoy and the Prime Minster discussed the importance of convincing the military leadership that any stability requires the immediate cessation of hostilities and a genuinely inclusive approach.  A federal democratic union must be pursued in accordance with the will of the people, grounded firmly in the ASEAN Charter and the norms and values of the United Nations.

In her discussion with the ASEAN Special Envoy, Special Envoy Heyzer appreciated his sustained efforts in Myanmar to address obstacles in delivering humanitarian assistance, and his follow up proposals including a Consultative Meeting, and further discussions on visit outcomes such as the ASEAN Troika mechanism, the Friends of Myanmar, and the Humanitarian Corridor Arrangement. She highlighted the importance of effective humanitarian assistance to all people in need without discrimination.  This will require safe and unhindered access to all affected areas and the delivery of aid through all existing channels.

In this regard, the Special Envoy reinforced the importance of an expanded approach to providing humanitarian assistance, adding that a robust ASEAN-UN umbrella, which both Envoys could co-facilitate to deliver assistance to affected communities through all existing channels and address the multiple priority needs of the people across the country. This would include civilian protection as well as food security, socio-economic resilience, humanitarian and COVID-19 assistance.

The Special Envoy’s discussions in Phnom Penh also stressed that addressing the plight of the Rohingya needed to be part and parcel of any broader solution for a genuinely inclusive Myanmar. She urged ASEAN to redouble its efforts to help support durable solutions for Rohingya remaining in Rakhine as a key confidence builder.

There is an urgency to help the people of Myanmar realize, in concrete terms, their desire for a peaceful, democratic and inclusive future. ASEAN and the broader international community have a responsibility to amplify and support the will of the people.  It is also the obligation of any responsible military to protect its citizens and respect their aspirations.  She reiterated her commitment to working closely with ASEAN and its members towards this end, making available the wide array of comparative advantages and expertise of the United Nations to reinforce and complement regional action.

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