Myanmar: UN expert welcomes moves to amend constitution
GENEVA (7 February 2019) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, who has been critical of the Government’s failure to pursue democratic reforms, has welcomed the establishment of a parliamentary committee to amend the problematic constitution.
“The establishment of this committee is a positive development that I hope will aid Myanmar to truly transition to democracy,” said Yanghee Lee. “The people wish the constitution to be amended, and I encourage the new joint committee to carry out their will.”
The ruling National League for Democracy party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, pledged to amend the constitution during its 2015 national election campaign, which it won by a landslide.
Myanmar’s 2008 constitution was drafted by the previous military government and has been a key stumbling point in the country’s ability to move from decades of military rule towards democracy. It reserves 25 percent of the seats in parliament to members of the military, as well as designating military control of the Ministries of Home Affairs, Defence Services and Border Affairs.
“The current constitution is not democratic, and Myanmar cannot be considered a democracy without it being amended,” the Special Rapporteur said.
Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. 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
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