Conditions for Untold Numbers of Innocent People in Myanmar Have Gone from Bad to Worse to Horrific, Special Rapporteur Tells Human Rights Council

Council Concludes General Debate on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

Thomas Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, told the Human Rights Council this afternoon that conditions for untold numbers of innocent people in Myanmar had gone from bad to worse to horrific. Around 1.3 million people had been displaced; and the military had destroyed more than 28,000 homes, burning entire villages to the ground. The number of innocent people who had been killed or injured by landmines was rising significantly. There was a looming food crisis and a dramatic increase in childhood malnutrition; women were losing economic and social gains; and 130,000 Rohingya remained confined in de facto internment camps.

Mr. Andrews said the people of Myanmar were frustrated and angered by Member States that were working to prop up this illegal and brutal military junta with funding, trade, weapons, and a veneer of legitimacy. They were also disappointed by those nations that voiced support for them, but then failed to back up their words with action. The international response to this deepening crisis had failed. Member States needed to take stronger, more effective action to deprive the junta and its forces of revenue, weapons and legitimacy. A coalition of nations needed to be established that could build a coordinated strategy on the crisis.

Conflict was spreading throughout Myanmar, with more and more civilians taking up arms against the junta, said Mr. Andrews. Ethnic armed organizations were increasingly engaging junta forces. Clashes between the Arakan Army and junta forces were escalating. Newly formed People’s Defence Forces were now attacking the military throughout the country. The junta was deeply unpopular in every corner of Myanmar. The junta was using aid as a weapon by obstructing deliveries to displaced populations and communities that they perceived to be aligned with pro-democracy forces. Untold numbers of innocent people had been left without access to food, medicine and the means to survive.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers said that for the past five years, the human rights situation in Myanmar had been catastrophic. The illegal coup of 2021 had plunged the country into a situation in which the entire population was held hostage by the military junta. Mass atrocities continued to be committed against the entire population. Full, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access was essential for all persons in need. It was necessary to ensure the safety of humanitarian personnel, and to create the necessary conditions for a voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees and internally displaced persons. The conflict also threatened peace and stability in the region, including India and in Bangladesh, where a durable solution had not been found to the Rohingya refugee crisis.

One speaker said not listening to the State concerned ran counter to the Human Rights Council’s commitment to peaceful cooperation, and there should be understanding for the situation of Myanmar, and therefore the international community should seek means for cooperation. The unilateral coercive measures imposed on Myanmar should be lifted immediately. The Human Rights Council should cease to use politicised mandates against countries of the South, as they ran counter to the spirit of the United Nations Charter, and should tackle issues around the world in a cooperative and lasting manner.

Speaking in the interactive dialogue were Luxembourg on behalf of a group of countries, European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Sweden on behalf of a group of countries, Sierra Leone, Republic of Korea, France, Australia, India, Austria, and Venezuela.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its general debate on agenda item three on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

Some speakers said that the protection and promotion of human rights was vital, and only when the right to development was guaranteed could there be guarantees of the other human rights. Economic, social and cultural rights were vital in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which had pushed millions into poverty and unemployment, showing the weakened public system. The impact of this crisis and the environmental crisis had shown that this was a key moment in human history. Human rights had to be integrated in all recovery processes and plans, and the international human rights framework should be used in the progress towards a more harmonious international system in harmony with the environment, ensuring the survival of humanity.

Speaking in the general debate were the following non-governmental organizations: Law Council of Australia on behalf of International Bar Association, Disability Association of Tavana, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Soka Gakkai International on behalf of Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Direitos Humanos and International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Mouvement National des Jeunes Patriotes du Mali, China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS), Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Direitos Humanos, YouChange China Social Entrepreneur Foundation, International Federation of Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture on behalf of Advocates for Human Rights and Ensemble contre la Peine de Mort, China Foundation for Human Rights Development, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Centre Europe – tiers monde, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA), Friends World Committee for Consultation, Youth Parliament for SDG, Asociacion, China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetian Culture (CAPDTC), Make Mothers Matter, Edmund Rice International Limited, Shaanxi Patriotic Volunteer Association, Centre for Gender Justice and Women Empowerment, Physicians for Human Rights, Conscience and Peace Tax International (CPTI), and Association pour la défense des droits de l’homme et des revendications démocratiques/culturelles du peuple Azerbaidjanais-Iran – « ARC ».

Also speaking were Mother of Hope Cameroon Common Initiative Group, Organization for Poverty Alleviation and Development, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII on behalf of a group of organisations, Meezaan Center for Human Rights, Interfaith International, Association Ma’onah for Human Rights and Immigration, Peace Track Initiative, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme, Association Internationale pour l’égalité des femmes, Tumuku Development and Cultural Union (TACUDU), Beijing Guangming Charity Foundation, Il Cenacolo, Global Welfare Association, United Nations Association of China, Partners For Transparency, Al-Ayn Social Care Foundation, Jubilee Campaign, Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples, Caritas Internationalis (International Confederation of Catholic Charities), Al Baraem Association for Charitable Work, Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Africa Culture Internationale, World Muslim Congress, Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco, International Muslim Women’s Union, Peace Brigades International, International Union of Socialist Youth, International Commission of Jurists, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Sikh Human Rights Group, Action Canada for Population and Development, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Medical Support Association for Underprivileged Iranian Patients, Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism, Beijing Changier Education Foundation, Promotion du Développement Economique et Social – PDES, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Organisation internationale pour les pays les moins avancés (OIPMA), International Action for Peace & Sustainable Development, Global Appreciation and Skills Training Network, and iuventum e.V..

Also taking the floor were African Green Foundation International, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain Inc, Iraqi Development Organization, Alsalam Foundation, Villages Unis (United Villages), Chunhui Children’s Foundation, Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights Association, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM), United Towns Agency for North-South Cooperation, PRAHAR, Anglican Consultative Council, solidarité Suisse-Guinée, Association D’Entraide Médicale Guinée, Zero Pauvre Afrique, Synergie Feminine Pour La Paix Et Le Developpement Durable, Community Human Rights and Advocacy Centre (CHRAC), and Commission africaine des promoteurs de la santé et des droits de l’homme.

Speaking in right of reply were the United States, Azerbaijan, China, Iran, and Armenia.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s fifty-first regular session can be found here.

The Council will next meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 22 September, when it will conclude the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. This will be followed by an interactive dialogue on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Myanmar.

General Debate on Agenda Item Three on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the Right to Development

The general debate on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, started in the previous meting and a summary can be found here.

Source: UN Human Rights Council

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