23 October 2023, New York – European Union Statement at the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee Interactive Dialogue (combined) with Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) Mr. Khaled KHIAR, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar, Mr. Nicholas KOUMJIAN and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Mr. Thomas H. ANDREWS
The EU and its Member States welcome this joint interactive dialogue focusing on the human rights situation in Myanmar. We thank you for your presentations and reports, and express our full support for your mandates and the important work that you carry out to support efforts to bring peace, stability, justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar.
We share your grave concern over the deteriorating human rights situation and humanitarian crisis across the country. 2023 has indeed been a horrific year, where the people continue to suffer under the brutal military junta. We are alarmed by the escalation of violence and the brutality of indiscriminate attacks by the military forces against the civilian population – including by airstrikes, arson and burning of villages and other civilian targets, mass killings, torture, sexual and gender-based violence – and the list goes on. The horrific airstrike on an IDP camp in Kachin State earlier this month [9 October] carried out by the Myanmar military regime is the latest example.
The EU does not regard the military regime that emerged from the coup as having any legitimacy and strongly condemns the flagrant violations, abuses and disregard for human rights by the Myanmar military. In line with UNSC resolution 2669, we call on the military to immediately end all forms of violence against civilians, release political prisoners and others arbitrarily detained, to restore democracy, and rule of law and ensure justice and accountability for human rights violations.
We are alarmed by the deepening humanitarian situation across the entire country and the deliberate denial and obstruction of humanitarian access and relief by the military in flagrant violation of humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law. The EU strongly condemns these unacceptable restrictions and instrumentalization of relief operations by the military, including after cyclone Mocha that caused death and destruction in Rakhine and several other regions in May this year. The EU remains committed to support the humanitarian relief effort in Myanmar and calls on the military to urgently allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access.
We remain deeply concerned over the situation of the Rohingya population – those who have fled to Bangladesh as well as those who remain in Rakhine state, who continue to suffer. We recognize the generosity and efforts of Bangladesh in hosting nearly one million Rohingya and understand your frustration that a durable solution remains elusive and that the situation is not conducive for voluntary and sustainable repatriation in safety and dignity. In the meantime, you can continue to count on our support.
The situation in Myanmar requires more attention by the international community. We welcome the engagement by ASEAN and support its Five Point Consensus. We look forward to the appointment by the Secretary-General of a new Special Envoy, and encourage a more strategic engagement by the UN, in coordination with regional actors and all stakeholders.
Now to our questions.
What impact do you think a global arms embargo against the Myanmar military would have on the conflict and the enjoyment of human rights of people in Myanmar?
Your report documents the command structure of the Myanmar military, and how it may have deliberately prepared and executed international crimes. How did the civil society contribute to your work?
The UN in Myanmar has been pushing for more access to deliver humanitarian aid. Is there any indication that engagement has led to any increased access on the ground or any moderation in the military’s violations?