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Security Council – Briefing on the situation in Myanmar

Statement by Ambassador Inigo Lambertini, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council briefing on the situation in Myanmar —

Mr. President,

I would like to thank the Under Secretary-General Mr. Feltman and the Special Representative Patten for their briefings.

Italy remains committed to supporting Myanmar in overcoming the crisis in Rakhine and progressing in its democratic transition and peace process. In this spirit we have constructively contributed to the work of this Council, especially with the adoption last month of a Presidential Statement, and to that of the III Committee and of the Human Rights Council. Also, we have immediately mobilized to respond to the humanitarian situation and announced a pledge of 7 million euros at the Donors Conference in Geneva.

Mr. President, I would like to make three main points.

First: despite some signs of easing of tensions and the efforts made by the Government of Myanmar, the situation in Rakhine is still seriously concerning. Violence must stop, security and respect of human rights must be granted to all civilians, regardless of their status, ethnicity or religion; humanitarian assistance must be delivered to all those in need without discrimination. We urge once again the Authorities to ensure a full and unhindered access of humanitarian and human rights actors and, especially, of the United Nations’ Agencies.

At the same time, the humanitarian situation of those who fled to Bangladesh is rapidly deteriorating. We commend once again Bangladesh for its solidarity and express our gratitude for the burden it is bearing. The international community should scale up its assistance before the conditions in camps, where mainly children are hosted with lack of adequate access to food, sanitary, health and other basic services, worsen further. Beyond responding to the emergency, a more comprehensive strategy to assist refugees will be needed.

Second: safe, dignified and voluntary return is key to normalization. We praise the conclusion of the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh on repatriation and look forward to its implementation, calling on both Countries to continue cooperating with each other and with the United Nations, especially with UNHCR whose capacity in this field is unparalleled.

The return must be sustainable: proper conditions must be put in place in Rakhine to allow refugees to return to their place of origin and rebuild a life there. Security, freedom of movement, respect of human rights, access to services and livelihoods are paramount to this end. We welcome the steps made by the Government, including with the establishment of the Union Enterprise and the appointment of the Advisory Board of the Inter-ministerial Committee, but still much has to be done in the short, medium and longer term. The recommendations of the Advisory Commission chaired by Kofi Annan stand as a roadmap that must be operationalized through the Authorities’ consistent commitment. The International Community stands ready to support this process.

Third: reconciliation. Intercommunal and interreligious dialogue is crucial at this stage. We welcome the initiatives taken so far by the Government and encourage it to boost its endeavor to reignite a spirit of understanding and mutual trust among communities. Pope Francis’ visit represented a landmark. We fully endorse and echo his plea for justice, human rights and respect for each ethnic group and its identity.

In this perspective, accountability remains fundamental. We remain deeply concerned over reports of grave human rights violations and abuses in Rakhine including serious allegations of sexual and gender based violence, especially against the Rohingya community. Those responsible must be identified and brought to justice. We urge the Authorities to take concrete commitments in this regard. We believe the United Nations can play an important role in helping them to assess impartially what happened and reiterate our call for cooperation with the Fact Finding Mission.

We also salute the forthcoming visit of Special Representative Patten to Myanmar. While we commend the Authorities’ support for her mandate, we encourage them to further step up their dialogue with her, also in the area of law reform and capacity-building, as well as with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Lee.

Mr. President,

Promising steps have been made in the past few weeks thanks to Myanmar’s commitment but additional efforts are required to address the situation in Rakhine in a comprehensive and effective manner, as outlined by the Presidential Statement that we look forward to seeing fully implemented. We encourage Myanmar to strengthen the cooperation with the United Nations’ system, which is the best equipped to shore up the action of the parties and of regional actors, also with a view to the appointment of a Special Envoy provided for by the III Committee Resolution to be considered by the General Assembly in the next days. The International Community, and the Security Council, should continue to keep the situation on focus to ensure a united and constructive support to peace and reconciliation in Myanmar. Italy, as it has done this year as member of this Council, will continue to do its part, at bilateral and multilateral level.

Thank you.