In the first full year of existence, the Mechanism has made significant progress on several fronts.
It has built a team and infrastructure capable of implementing its challenging mandate – to collect, preserve and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes committed in Myanmar since 2011 and to build case files that address individual criminal responsibility.
It has prioritised the recruitment of personnel with a diverse range of expertise and specializations, who will help it address the challenges it faces, including:
• ensuring the protection of witnesses and information providers;
• building a secure and state-of the art digital evidence management system;
• combatting cybersecurity and information security risks; and
• enabling the Mechanism to engage with its interlocutors and stakeholders, who speak a myriad of languages.
It has also added, to its team, experts in international law; criminal investigations and prosecution; military analysis; sexual and gender-based crimes and violence; and crimes against children.
In view of the challenging financial situation currently facing the United Nations, the Mechanism has adjusted its structure so that it is more effective and efficient, enabling it to propose a leaner budget for 2021. This budget submission is subject to approval by the General Assembly by the end of this year.
During the past six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the Mechanism’s ability to travel to engage with relevant stakeholders and collect evidence. However, it is using innovative measures and advanced technology tools, including videoconferencing and open source investigations, to adjust its operations and make progress despite difficult circumstances. For example, following discussions for over a year, Facebook recently agreed to preserve material at the Mechanism’s request and has begun providing materials that partially comply with its requests. These discussions are ongoing and the Mechanism is hopeful it will lead to much more relevant material becoming available. The Mechanism also continues to reach out to the Government of Myanmar as well as other Member States to seek access to relevant information.
In parallel, the Mechanism has been developing its information management systems so that it can safely and securely store the materials it receives and conduct analyses of those materials in order to identify individuals who may be responsible for serious international crimes committed in Myanmar.
In resolution 43/26 of 22 June 2020, the Human Rights Council called for close and timely cooperation between the Mechanism and any future investigations by national, regional or international courts, including the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. In this regard, the Mechanism has been sharing appropriate information with The Gambia and Myanmar, Parties to the proceedings before the International Court of Justice, in response to their requests and with the consent of the original information providers. The Mechanism believes that it is important that judges to that case have access to all relevant information.