Update November 17, 2018

Dhaka 11-40 pm, 03-August, 2020

UN adopts resolution on HR situation in Myanmar

Mirajul Moin Joy

The third committee of the UN General Assembly in New York has adopted a resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.

A total of 142 countries voted in favour of the resolution and 10 countries stood against it while 26 countries refrained from casting votes on the resolution brought jointly by the European Union and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday.

Bangladesh and Austria placed the resolution on behalf of the OIC and EU respectively.

A total of 103 countries, including the USA, Canada, Austria and Mexico co-sponsored the resolution.

The international community hopes that the resolution will play a significant role in ensuring sustainable rehabilitation of Rohingyas, said the press wing of
Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations on Saturday.

Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Masud Bin Momen said the resolution makes several references to Bangladesh as the host country for the forcibly displaced Rohingya.

In its capacity as the Chair of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, Bangladesh submitted the draft resolution on behalf of the group and co-sponsored it.

The resolution is yet another affirmation of the international community’s solidarity with the Rohingya, said Ambassador Momen.

Last year, he said, the world had failed yet again to prevent the gravest crimes under international law committed against the Rohingya.

Ambassador Momen said the resolution reaffirms that the Rohingyas must be allowed, on their own accord, to return to their homes or any place of choice in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Since August last year, Bangladesh has urged the international community to stand by it as Bangladesh engaged in renewed efforts to resolve the crisis through dialogue with Myanmar.

With assurance from Myanmar, Bangladesh had agreed on November 15 to commence voluntary repatriation of individuals and families verified by Myanmar as Rakhine State residents.

It, however, appeared that the Rohingya themselves were not sufficiently convinced by the words of assurance as not a single one of them came forward to avail of the option to return.

They have instead made their voices heard seeking guarantees for a pathway to citizenship, entitlement to lands and compensation, protection from violence and reprisal, and dispensation of justice in Myanmar.

The UN agencies concerned must be allowed access to ascertain the right environment for return, said Ambassador Momen.

The Third Committee’s (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) approval of a draft on the human rights situation in Myanmar was similarly marked by intense debate, with Myanmar’s delegate “totally” rejecting the text as procedurally unwarranted and “hopelessly unconstructive” in its attempt to exert pressure on a soft target.

Passed by a recorded vote of 142 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 26 abstentions, it would have the Assembly condemn all rights violations in Myanmar and call for an independent investigation into them, including against Rohingya Muslims, to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.

The Assembly would advocate international support for the underfunded 2018 joint response plan for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.

Introducing the draft on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey’s delegate pressed Myanmar to end the vicious cycle of violence against the Rohingya.

“We must work tirelessly to urge Myanmar to address the root causes of the crisis,” he asserted.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday to take further action on draft resolution.

The representative of Turkey, introducing the draft on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed deep concern over serious human rights violations in Myanmar against the Rohingya.

Without a comprehensive strategy, it is impossible to find solutions to the crisis, Turkey representative says.

Welcoming Bangladesh’s efforts to address the humanitarian crisis, he said the voluntary and safe return of Rohingya is the only lasting solution, cautioning against transferring refugees from camps in one State to those in the other.

“We must work tirelessly to urge Myanmar to address the root causes of the crisis”, he stressed, expressing the organization’s readiness to work with the United Nations and engaged parties.

The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, said the draft articulates the grave international concern over the suffering of the Rohingya.

The representative of Myanmar, in explanation of vote, “totally” rejected the draft, calling the tabling of a country‑specific resolution on any country that is under active consideration by the Human Rights Council procedurally unwarranted and an abuse of human rights procedure.

The representative of the United States expressed deep concern about serious human rights violations in “Burma” and Rakhine State.

She stressed the importance of ensuring the return of displaced persons to their place of origin, while welcoming the establishment of an independent mechanism to collect and analyse data, echoing the call to immediately make it operational.

She also voiced support for efforts to achieve accountability, commending the Special Rapporteur on developing insightful reports, despite Myanmar’s restrictions.

The representative of China said different human rights needs must be addressed through constructive dialogue and cooperation, recalling complex historic and ethnic issues.

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