Myanmar

Press release at the conclusion of the visit to Myanmar of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Myanmar, Mr. Vijay Nambiar, from 12 to 17 February 2012

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The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Myanmar, Mr Vijay Nambiar, concluded today a five-day visit at the invitation of the Government of Myanmar. In Naypyitaw, the Special Adviser was received by President Thein Sein, Speaker Shwe Mann, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and the Ministers of Labour and Social Welfare, Border Affairs, Industry, Railways, and Immigration, as well as the Union Peace Committee and Union Election Commission. Jointly with Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham, the Special Adviser inaugurated the Conference on Development Options for Myanmar organized by the United Nations and the Government of Myanmar. The Special Adviser also met with the General Secretary of the USDP. In Mon and Kayin States, the Special Adviser met with the respective Chief Ministers and members of the State government and legislature and local ethnic representatives. He also visited a field project of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and met with local civil society partners. In Yangon, the Special Adviser met again with NLD Chair Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He also held separate meetings with civil society, ethnic and business representatives.

One year after the formation of the new Government and the launch of political and economic reforms under the leadership of President Thein Sein, the changes currently underway in Myanmar have attained an unprecedented level of initiative, as recognized by a range of stakeholders across the political spectrum. The Special Adviser strongly commends President Thein Sein and the Myanmar authorities for their determination and commitment to move the country forward in a way that meets the needs and aspirations of the peoples of Myanmar. He welcomes the openness with which the Myanmar authorities recognize the challenges, as well as opportunities, inherent to such a process. This has raised much expectation inside and outside the country, particularly in the context of Myanmar’s responsibilities as Chair of ASEAN in 2014.

During his meetings the Special Adviser highlighted three priorities that define domestic and international perceptions of the pace of reform:

· It is necessary to ensure that both the process leading to, and the conduct of, the by-elections on 1 April 2012 are credible, and that they are seen to be so by all. This includes ensuring conditions for a level playing field for all parties to compete openly and addressing complaints swiftly and transparently. The by-elections will be a critical test of the Government’s commitment to broaden and enhance the credibility of the democratic process in the country.

· Peace and national reconciliation are central to Myanmar’s overall stability and development. Recent successful efforts by all parties to reach ceasefire and peace agreements have brought Myanmar closer than ever to a historic achievement. Progress is now needed with regard to the situation in Kachin State, including the needs of the displaced population. Overcoming decades of strife and mistrust through inclusive political dialogue remains an important prerequisite to building a durable peace, which the country requires in order to move forward as one.

· It is urgent that the Government delivers on the socio-economic needs of the people so that they start benefitting in real terms from the reforms so far. Health, education and job creation remain key responsibilities for both central and local authorities in order to empower people to participate fully and equitably in the country’s development and growth. Only through the formulation and implementation of sound economic policies can this change be accelerated in the interest of the entre population of Myanmar.

It is self-evident that neither peace nor development can be sustained without respect for human rights and the rule of law. Building on the recent release of political prisoners and other measures, further steps are necessary in order to build trust and enable the democratic transition to succeed.

The Special Adviser welcomes the Government’s recognition of the value of partnership with the United Nations to help Myanmar meet the challenges and opportunities before it. The good offices of the United Nations are ready to work with all stakeholders in this important task. The Special Adviser also feels that the international community must respond more robustly to the needs of the Myanmar people by lifting current restrictions on UN programmes. Now is the time to step up support and to adjust existing policies in order to help build conditions for sustaining the reform and for the betterment of Myanmar’s peoples.

Yangon, 17 February 2012