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UN Statement on Resident Coordinator in Myanmar

UN Statement on Resident Coordinator in Myanmar
Jun 21, 2017

The UN strongly disagrees with false and inaccurate statements in recent media reports about the UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar, Renata Lok-Dessallien.

The future elevation of the UN Resident Coordinator post in Myanmar to the level of an Assistant Secretary-General has no links to the current Resident Coordinator, Renata Lok-Dessallien. As stated by the Secretary-General’s Spokesperson on June 13, her performance has been constantly appreciated.

The upgrading of the UN Resident Coordinator post is aimed to further strengthen collaboration between the United Nations and Myanmar. This will not change the mandate of the Resident Coordinator.

Renata Lok-Dessallien will continue to serve as the UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar until further notice.

NEWS RELEASE: UN Special Rapporteur urges Myanmar to do more to protect the rights of all children

UN Special Rapporteur urges Myanmar to do more to protect the rights of all children

GENEVA (15 June 2017) – More must be done by the Government of Myanmar to protect children in the country, says a United Nations human rights expert.

Reporting to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, reminded the Government that this obligation extended to all children within its jurisdiction, including all those from the Rohingya minority living in Rakhine State.

Expressing concern that at least 13 children were being held by police in Rakhine, the Special Rapporteur highlighted that children should be detained “strictly as a last resort.”

She also called for an immediate Government investigation into the death in custody of one from among the 13, in order to fully probe the circumstances including why the death was not reported for four months.

Ms. Lee noted the overall situation in Rakhine State remains tense with incidents of alleged rape, torture, kidnapping and a village official being stabbed to death.

The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the situation of Rohingya children who have fled Myanmar.

“I am especially alarmed by the reported recent rise in the number of child brides among women and girls who fled Myanmar and live in neighbouring countries,” she said. “This perpetuates the cycle of violence and of poverty experienced by these young women.”

“I call on the Government to do more to protect all children, including those forced to work, from abuse and neglect,” said the expert, expressing shock at the recent case of a girl working as a domestic servant and who had been abused by her employers.  

The Special Rapporteur provided an update to the Council on several other issues of concern, including the reported estimated 66 cases brought under a vague defamation provision of the Telecommunications Act since the new government came to power, and the continuing reports of serious human rights violations allegedly committed by several parties to the conflict in Kachin and Shan States.

Highlighting the number of alarming incidents of incitement of intercommunal tension and religious violence since her last update, the expert called on the Government of Myanmar to “take more concerted, systematic efforts to curb hate speech and violence incited by nationalist groups.”

On a more positive note, Ms. Lee congratulated Myanmar on becoming a medium-ranked country in the human development index.

The Special Rapporteur will visit Myanmar in July and said she will continue to look into business and human rights issues.

“I stand ready to assist in any way I can to achieve a Myanmar where the rights and fundamental freedoms of all are respected and fully realized,” she said.

ENDS

Professor Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Lee is currently serving as the Chairperson of the Coordinating Committee of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

UN Human Rights, country page: Myanmar.

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Azwa Petra (+41 22 928 9103 / apetra@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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Statement by the Secretary-General on the death of Babatunde Osotimehen

Statement by the Secretary-General on the death of Babatunde Osotimehen

I am profoundly saddened by the sudden passing of my good colleague and friend, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.  I offer sincere condolences to his family, to the staff of UNFPA, to the Government and people of Nigeria, and to all those around the world touched by this loss.

The world has lost a great champion of health and well-being for all.

Dr. Babatunde was admired globally for his leadership of the UN Population Fund and for his forceful advocacy for the world’s women and girls in particular.

Sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights are among the most important, and often sensitive, on the international agenda; Dr. Babatunde’s calm yet ardent efforts helped families get the sexual and reproductive health services they need, and helped the world advance the landmark 1994 Cairo Programme of Action on Population and Development.  His voice was invaluable over the years, including his time as Nigeria’s Minister of Health, in pressing for family planning, women’s education, children’s health and action on HIV/AIDS as vital ingredients in human progress.

At this moment of sorrow, let us give thanks for Babatunde’s life of service.

New York, 5 June 2017

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement

The decision by the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change is a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security.

The Paris Agreement was adopted by all the world’s nations in 2015 because they recognize the immense harm that climate change is already causing and the enormous opportunity that climate action presents.  It offers a meaningful yet flexible framework for action by all countries.

The transformation envisaged in the Paris Agreement is already underway.  The Secretary-General remains confident that cities, states and businesses within the United States — along with other countries — will continue to demonstrate vision and leadership by working for the low-carbon, resilient economic growth that will create quality jobs and markets for 21st century prosperity.

It is crucial that the United States remains a leader on environmental issues.

The Secretary-General looks forward to engaging with the American government and  all actors in the United States and around the world to build the sustainable future on which our grandchildren depend.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General

New York, 1 June 2017

President of Human Rights Council appoints Members of Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar

President of Human Rights Council appoints Members of Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar

Geneva, 30 May 2017 — The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli (El Salvador), announced today the appointment of Ms. Indira Jaising (India), Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka) and Mr. Christopher Dominic Sidoti (Australia) to serve as the three members of the Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar.  Ms. Jaising will serve as Chair of the three-person mission.

On 24 March 2017, at its thirty-fourth session, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Council, to “establish facts and circumstances of the alleged recent human rights violations by military and security forces, and abuses, in Myanmar, in particular in Rakhine State”.

Through Human Rights Council resolution 34/22, the 47-member body mandated the members of the mission to look into, inter alia, allegations of arbitrary detention, torture and inhuman treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, forced displacement and unlawful destruction of property.  The mission members, who will serve in their personal capacities, are also mandated to carry out their work with a view to ensuring full accountability for the perpetrators of these acts and justice for the victims.  

The Council also encouraged the Government of Myanmar to fully cooperate with the fact-finding mission by making available the findings of their domestic investigations and by granting full, unrestricted and unmonitored access to all areas and interlocutors.  The Council also stressed the need for the mission to be provided with all necessary resources and expertise necessary to carry out its mandate.  

The fact-finding mission is scheduled to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-sixth session in September this year and a full report at its thirty-seventh session in March 2018.

The members of the Mission are expected to meet in Geneva in the coming weeks to plan their agenda and work for the months ahead.  

Biographies of the members of the Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar

Ms. Indira Jaising (India) is an advocate of the Supreme Court of India, and former CEDAW member (2009-2012). She co-founded the Lawyers Collective in 1981, an NGO devoted to the defence of human rights and women’s rights.  She was India’s first woman to be designated a Senior Advocate by the High Court of Bombay in 1986, and first female Additional Solicitor General of the country from 2009 until 2014. She drafted India’s first domestic violence act, allowing women to bring civil and criminal suits against attackers for the first time. She graduated in law with an LLB degree in 1964. Ms. Jaising holds a post graduate degree in law from University of Bombay and received a fellowship from the Institute of Advanced Legal studies of the University of London in 1970. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University New York, and Bok Visiting International Professor at University of Pennsylvania (2015).

Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka) is a lawyer by training and a civil society member of the Constitutional Council, formerly the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (2003-2006) and the Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (1984-2006). She has worked as the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (1994-2003), and as Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (2006-2012). In 2014, Ms. Coomaraswamy was appointed by the Un Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as lead author on the Global Study on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace and Security. As an academic, she is a Global Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law. She received her B.A. from Yale University, her J.D. from Columbia University, an LL.M. from Harvard University and honorary PhDs from Amherst College, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the University of Edinburgh, University of Ulster, the University of Essex and the CUNY School of Law, amongst others.

Mr. Christopher Dominic Sidoti (Australia) is an international human rights consultant, specializing in the international human rights system and in national human rights institutions who, since 2000, has provided consultancy services on human rights law and practices to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNDP, UNICEF, the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions and several national human rights institutions. He was director of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR; 2003-2007), served as Australian Human Rights Commissioner (1995-2000), Australian Law Reform Commissioner (1992-1995) and Foundation Director of the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (1987-1992). From 1999 to 2013 he was principal facilitator and interlocutor in a human rights initiative between the Government of Australia and the Government of Myanmar.  He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Sydney, Griffith University (Queensland), University of the Sunshine Coast (Queensland) and the Australian Catholic University. Mr. Sidoti holds a Bachelor of Arts, major in government, and a Bachelor of Laws.

For information about the Fact-finding Mission please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/MyanmarFFM/Pages/Index.aspx
For more information about the Human Rights Council please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/hrc

Media contacts: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org, Sarah Lubbersen, Public Information Officer, + 41(0)22 917 9689, slubbersen@ohchr.org, Cédric Sapey at +41 (0) 22 917 9751 /csapey@ohchr.org

For use of the information media; not an official record

Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H. E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar

The Secretary-General met today in Beijing with H. E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, on the occasion of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

The Secretary-General and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi discussed the United Nations’ support to the democratic transition in Myanmar, the peace process and the way to a fair solution addressing the root causes of the current crisis in Rakhine State.

Beijing, 15 May 2017

UN RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR RENATA DESSALLIEN’S VISIT TO KACHIN STATE

United Nations

Nations Unies

 Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Republic of the Union of Myanmar

MEDIA RELEASE

UN RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR RENATA DESSALLIEN’S VISIT TO KACHIN STATE

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Ms Renata Dessallien, visited Kachin State from 7-9 May 2017 to meet with people displaced by armed conflict, senior Government officials, civil society organizations and humanitarian partners.

Ms Dessallien met with U Khat Aung, Chief Minister of Kachin State as well as representatives of humanitarian and other organizations including the Joint Strategy Team (JST) to discuss the humanitarian and development needs of all communities in Kachin State.

The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator also visited the Pa La Na IDP Resettlement Site and the Maina RC and Maina KBC IDP Camps to see first-hand, the impact of the conflict on vulnerable communities. She also observed a programme implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) using mobile cash transfers for humanitarian assistance for displaced people in Myitkyina and visited a Women and Girls Centre managed by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Background:

In Kachin State, as a result of the armed conflict that restarted in 2011, about 86,000 people remain displaced in 141 camps/sites, of which about 77 percent are women and children. More than 40 per cent of the displaced people are located in areas beyond Government control where international actors have limited humanitarian access but where local humanitarian organizations continue to be able to operate, despite increasing constraints.

During December 2016 and January 2017, three entire camps housing more than 6,000 people in areas beyond Government control in Kachin were emptied as a result of fighting nearby and these people are now sheltering in temporary sites or other IDP camps, some of which are in Government controlled areas. With fluid front lines and so many people on the move in conflict areas, there are serious risks posed by landmines.

 RC/HC with recently arrived IDP woman. Maina RC IDP Camp. Kachin State

RC/ HC with a group of women in Pa La Na, Kachin State.

Taking the wheel on road safety

Op-ed by Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh,

Regional Director for WHO South-East Asia

 

Taking the wheel on road safety

Why good public policy holds the key to safer roads

Motor travel has had a profound impact on the modern world. Road networks have linked communities. Local transport systems have changed lifestyles. And ever-greater mobility has advanced social and economic progress. The simple joy of driving, meanwhile, has rapt enthusiasts since an engine was first hitched to four wheels and a drive shaft.

And yet despite these common goods, there is a tragic downside: mass injury, disability and death. In the WHO South-East Asia Region approximately 316 000 people die every year on our roads, equating to around 865 fatalities each day. Twenty to 50 times that number are injured or disabled and require long-term care. Road fatalities are the leading cause of death among young persons, while road safety incidents are costing upwards of 3% of GDP. That’s before accounting for medical expenses.

This devastating toll is often chalked up to rising rates of vehicle ownership. Not true. High income countries account for just 10% of road deaths, despite having 46% of the world’s motor vehicles. It is also explained away by reference to ‘human error’. That’s a fallacy. The vast majority of ‘accidents’ could have been avoided by better use of road safety technology such as barriers, rumble strips or signage. Their impact could also have been lessened by safer vehicles.

Though the behavior of road users matters, poor public policy is at the root of the problem. The upshot? Good policy can bring about immediate change. Action in four key areas can diminish injury and death on roads across the Region, and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.

First, road safety authorities must have the data needed to act efficiently. Good data allows authorities to analyze and understand the factors causing road crashes, as well as to devise and implement cost-effective solutions. This could be as minor as installing a guardrail on a switchback, or as substantial as demolishing a high-risk road and building it anew. Clear lines of responsibility and partnership among government agencies and stakeholders can help this process, especially given the problem’s multi-sectoral nature.

Second, infrastructure must be tailored to the needs of vulnerable road users. On average 50% of road deaths across the Region occur among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. In some countries this figure rises to more than 80%. Bicycle lanes, pedestrian crossings and enforcement of helmet laws among other interventions can dramatically reduce these numbers. And they can do so in a way that makes our cities less car dependent.

Third, motor vehicles must be manufactured to higher safety standards. Just two of the Region’s countries currently apply any of the seven priority international vehicle safety standards, such as seat belts and electronic stability control. Not a single country applies all. Priority safety features should be present in all new vehicles; the inclusion of more advanced technologies should be encouraged. Consumers have immense power in making this happen, and in creating a groundswell for national regulations to be harmonized with global standards.

Finally, responsiveness to post-crash emergencies must be increased. When every second counts, a nationwide emergency phone service is critical. So too are efficient pre-hospital response and hospital trauma care systems. On all counts, more work is needed. In addition, steps should be taken to enhance early rehabilitation and support for road crash victims. This will help avoid long-term complications and enhance quality of life. It will also reduce health care usage over the life-course.

Still, as safe as our roads become, they will never be entirely human-proof. Each one of us can limit the prospect of an incident and protect ourselves and our loved ones by slowing down, by desisting from drink-driving, by using seat-belts and child restraints, and, when riding a motorcycle, by wearing a helmet. These actions will reinforce government-led initiatives, and will also promote society-wide change.

This emphasis on broad-based ownership is crucial. Though motor travel is a welcome marker of development and increased autonomy, its public health impact is shared across society. As motor vehicle ownership in the Region increases, and as countries seek to advance public health and productivity, creating safer roads through good public policy is both readily achievable and necessary. Taking the wheel on road safety is a duty that cannot be foregone.

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, elected SEARO Regional Director at the WHO Executive Board meeting, Geneva. Tuesday 21 January 2014. Photo WHO / Violaine Martin

UNITED NATIONS RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR SPEECH FOR WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY 3 MAY 2017

UNITED NATIONS RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR
SPEECH FOR WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
3 MAY 2017
Excellency, Union Minister for Information Dr. Pe Myint,
Excellency,  Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Sweden to Myanmar Mr. Johan Hallenborg.

Dear Media colleagues and colleagues from the UN,
Mingalabar Shin and a very good morning to you all.
It’s an honour for me to read to you the UN Secretary General’s message on World Press Freedom Day 2017:

“Journalists go to the most dangerous places to give voice to the voiceless.

Media workers suffer character assassination, sexual assault, detention, injuries and even death.

We need leaders to defend a free media. This is crucial to counter prevailing misinformation.

And we need everyone to stand for our right to truth.

On World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all.

When we protect journalists, their words and pictures can change our world.”

… and now, let me say a few words of my own.
I would first like to pay tribute to one of the most revered journalists in Myanmar, U Win Tin, who won the prestigious UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize back in 2001.  At that time, sadly, U Win Tin was actually in prison and as we all know, a prison is no place for a credible journalist.
Myanmar and media freedoms have certainly come a long way since then.  Like U Win Tin, and others, Myanmar continues to produce great journalists.  Last year, Myanmar produced its first Pulitzer Prize Winner, Esther Htusan, of the Associated Press, who together with her colleagues, won the Award for Public Service Journalism, when their stories of trafficked Myanmar fishermen broke the news and resulted in the freedom of more than two thousand Myanmar fishermen, and made countries in the region look into their laws to protect migrant workers.
This year’s World Press Freedom Index released by Reports without Borders saw Myanmar climb 12 places compared to the previous year as expressed by the Minister just now. This represents strong efforts being made by the Government in Myanmar.
Myanmar has come far, there is no question about that.  But there are still 130 countries ahead of Myanmar on the World Press Freedom Index and more efforts need to be done.  There are still, for example, concerns raised on the safety and security of journalists.  Just last year, Excellency Dr. Pe Myint  presented an award on behalf of  the President, to Myanmar Now journalist, U Swe Win who ended the servitude of two housemaids at a Yangon tailor shop. U Swe Win’s courageous reporting on sensitive issues in Myanmar led to him receive death threats.  Likewise, the death of a Monywa-based Eleven journalist remains unresolved. Journalists need protection.
There are high expectations on increased media freedoms under the present Government.  The media in Myanmar have made significant progress.  They have set high standards for themselves and expect the support of the Government in helping them to reach these standards.   Higher media standards require access to information, including Government sources and to areas in strife, in order to report credibly, based on verified information.  Credible media does not produce fake news.  Credible media does not vilify people, incite hatred or make character assassinations.   In order for credible media to do its job, support must be given to remove barriers.  Whether these barriers are physical, psychological, or censorship — either imposed or self-imposed, they should be a thing of the past in today’s Myanmar.
In conclusion, on this World Press Freedom Day, let us honour the brave journalists who have sacrificed a great deal, including in some cases, their very own lives.  Media freedom is the fourth estate and the foundations of a healthy democratic society, governed by the rule of law and open and transparent.
Thank you very much, Kyay zuu tin bar deh.

Myanmar New Year Message by Renata Dessallien, UN Resident Coordinator

Myanmar New Year Message by Renata Dessallien, UN Resident Coordinator

(As broadcast on Skynet TV)

မဂၤလာပါရွင္ Mingalarbar Shin and warm greetings on this very special occasion. Thingyan is a special time for reflection, for meditation, and it’s also a time for joy and celebration. We reflect in order to improve ourselves, to improve our frame of mind, and our actions moving forward. And we celebrate to spread joy and enthusiasm and loving kindness to everyone around us.

The government of Myanmar has just reflected, on its first year in office and it has drawn lessons from that experience and re-committed itself to the will of the people, moving forward. And United Nations system is similarly reflecting, learning lessons and re-committing itself to the will of the people of Myanmar. Myanmar is a very special country.  On the one hand, history has not always been kind to Myanmar. And even today, many people still have very difficult lives because poverty still persists and inequality persists and even violent conflict erupts sometimes on the border regions of Myanmar.

But on the other hand, Myanmar is the country of great treasures and I’m not only speaking about material treasures. Treasures such as the very rich natural resources that Myanmar enjoys. But I am also thinking about human treasures and spiritual treasures. And here for me, I feel the one of the most precious treasures of Myanmar lies in the heart of the Myanmar people.

And I am speaking about the Myanmar spirit of generosity, the Myanmar spirit of oneness and solidarity with people who are suffering. And the spirit of loving kindness. This special quality of Myanmar, this treasure, has placed Myanmar at the very top of the list of countries for giving in the world. Myanmar is No 1, among all countries in the world for giving. And its not just giving for friends and inner circle of family and friends, its giving for everyone.

I was here in the year 2015, during the very massive floods in Myanmar where 12 out of the 14 states and regions were affected by the floods. And everyone came out to help whether they was young people, old people, whether it is rich or poor, girls or boys, everyone came out to pitch in and to try to help. It was on a very very inspiring moment where this Myanmar spirit of generosity flourished and it was at that time I felt very strongly that the future of this country is very bright.

We all know that Myanmar is in a process of nation building, great progress has been made and much remains to be accomplished. And its my hope and my prayer that as the people of this country and the government move forward and take this big nation-building steps for peace, for development, for democracy, for human rights, justice and equality for all. That the spirit of generosity and loving kindness will influence the process, so everyone will feel included, everyone will feel respected and everyone will feel valued because I believe in this way, a very great future is guarantee for this great country. And on this Thingyan I wish everyone very happy, joyful festivities.

Happy New Year Myanmar, Congratulations, Myanmar.  Kyay Zuu Tin Bar Deh!