Swedish Statment at the UN Security Council Briefing on Myanmar
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council briefing on Myanmar, 28 August 2018, New York.
Thank you Mr President,
Halabja 1988, Srebrenica 1995, Darfur 2003. The list of examples in modern history where violence has triumphed is long, too long. Regrettably, it seems a new name will now be added to this tragic list: Rakhine 2017.
The reports of systematic and widespread human rights violations and abuses against the Rohingya community in Rakhine State, as well as other gross violations of international law committed in Kachin and Shan States cannot be neglected. We have seen clear indications of crimes against humanity. Horrifying testimonies of torture and inhumane treatment, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence, summary and arbitrary killings, can have left no one untouched.
Let me thank you for having called this meeting, marking one year since the violence in Rakhine began to escalate. Let me also thank the Secretary General for his strong statement, as well as for his personal commitment and engagement. We also recognise Mrs Cate Blanchett’s important contribution to mobilise needed support and attention.
Sweden has actively contributed to the Council’s engagement on Myanmar since the first day of our membership. Some steps to address the situation have been taken – in November last year a united Council adopted a Presidential Statement setting out a plan for action, in March this year the Council paid a successful visit to the region to gain firsthand understanding and convey clear messages, and in April a UN Special Envoy was appointed with strong political support for her mandate.
But clearly this was not enough. We need to ask ourselves what more we could have done to prevent these atrocities from taking place in the first place. Honest lessons must be drawn for future efforts to ensure that it never happens again.
Yesterday the Fact-Finding Mission, a UN mandated body with a distinguished membership, presented credible and solid findings on the gravity of the atrocities committed by the Myanmar security forces. This is significant, and must be followed by meaningful action. The Chair of the FFM should as soon as possible be given the opportunity to present the report to the Security Council. In this regard, we recall the letter circulated already during the Swedish Presidency in July, proposing that the Fact-Finding Mission present their findings and recommendations to the Council.
Several initiatives by the Myanmar government to meet repeated demands for accountability have been announced, but they have regrettably all proven to fall short of expectations. With facts now having been established, the international community must shoulder its responsibility and act on accountability.
Sweden has previously called for this Council to consider a referral of the situation to the ICC. In light of the Fact Finding Mission’s report, we believe it is time to move forward and we need to consult among members on a resolution to this end.
At the same time, we should continue to work in other international bodies to ensure the establishment of an international mechanism for full and independent investigations.
In addition to ensuring accountability, there are several other matters that this Council already has agreed upon that also needs to be urgently addressed.
Firstly, its response to the humanitarian needs of the refugees in Cox’s Bazar must be stepped up. We commend efforts by Bangladesh. Substantially increased financial support is, however, needed, also for resilience. In this regard, we welcome the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank’s recent engagement.
Protection in the refugee camps, not least for the most vulnerable, must be improved. Special attention should be given to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, both women, girls and boys. More secure land must be provided and general security in the camps must be improved.
Secondly, the continuously dire situation in Rakhine also needs to be addressed. Full access to Rakhine for UN agencies, as well as for NGO’s and media is urgent and necessary. The MoU with UNHCR and UNDP must be implemented without delay.
Thirdly, conditions for voluntary, safe and dignified return to areas of origin must be ensured. In this regard, the implementation of the Annan report must be stepped up to address the root causes, including the issue of citizenship. Security, reconstruction and livelihood programmes must also be urgently provided for.
Reflecting on one of the major tragedies in recent times, the late former Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted with regret that “In their greatest hour of need, the world failed the people of Rwanda.” This Council cannot turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed to the Rohingya. We must now take full responsibility and do our utmost to end this nightmare. History will not look kindly upon those who fail to do so.
I thank you Mr. President.