– Yangon 13 May 2011 –
I have just completed a three-day working visit at the invitation of the new Government of Myanmar in my capacity as Special Adviser to the Secretary-General. This follows my earlier visit shortly after the elections in November last year. The purpose of this visit was three-fold:
First, to engage with the new six-week old Government and with other stakeholders in order to take stock of recent developments and to build on the comprehensive dialogue between the United Nations and Myanmar. In Naypyitaw, I met with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Social Welfare, National Planning and Development; and senior officials of the Ministries of Commerce, Health and Education. I also met with the newly appointed Presidential Advisers for political, legal and economic affairs. Meetings were also arranged with the Deputy Speaker of the People’s Assembly at the Union Assembly hall, and the Secretary-General of the Union Solidarity and Development Party. In Yangon, I met again with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the Central Executive Committee of the National League for Democracy. Further meetings were held with representatives of political parties represented in Parliament, and civil society organizations. This morning I visited Bago and met with the Chief Minister of Bago Region.
The second purpose of my visit was to convey a forward looking message. The United Nations welcomes the important themes and reforms announced by President Thein Sein in his inaugural speeches. These include the recognition of some of the most pressing political and economic challenges facing Myanmar and the need to address them in a way that strengthens national unity and reconciliation - sustainable development and equitable growth; good governance through greater responsiveness, inclusiveness, accountability, and transparency; continued engagement through genuine goodwill and keeping the door open with those who do not accept the Constitution and the roadmap; and respect for fundamental human rights, the media and the rule of law. These stated priorities of the Government are consistent with the expectations of the United Nations and the international community.
Recognizing the significance of the Government’s commitments, we must stress that implementation is key. I underscored the opportunity and responsibility that the Government now has to translate its commitments into effective action. Domestically and internationally, expectations are high that it will start taking concrete steps soon. In all my meetings, I stressed that this must include the release of all political prisoners and inclusive dialogue with all segments of society, as well as greater outreach to the international community to ensure that the proposed reforms enjoyed broad buy-in. Only then can there be greater confidence that the efforts undertaken will indeed serve to meet the longstanding needs and aspirations of the people of Myanmar. There is no time to waste if Myanmar is to move forward.
Thirdly, I reiterated the United Nations’ strong commitment to long-term engagement with the Government and people of Myanmar in support of their efforts to move the country towards durable peace, democracy and prosperity. Since Cyclone Nargis three years ago, the collaboration between the United Nations and Myanmar has grown significantly. With all my counterparts, I discussed the opportunity and the need to build on such efforts to deepen and broaden our engagement in advancing needed reforms, including through continued facilitation and greater assistance in the areas of economic development, health, education, capacity-building, and human rights. The United Nations wants Myanmar to succeed. With the cooperation of Myanmar and the support of all concerned, including regional and donor countries, the United Nations looks forward to being able to deliver to its full potential in order to better serve the people of Myanmar. On its part, the UN agencies would be better placed to respond to Myanmar’s development needs if the existing restrictions on its operations are removed.