[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Albright Statement on Burma to UN T

Subject:       Albright Statement on Burma to UN Third Committee

799 United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017

Tel: 2l2-4l5-4050
Fax: 212-415-4053

NOVEMBER 28, 1995

Statement by Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright, United States
Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Human Rights
Situations and Reports, in the Third Committee, November 28, 1995

Mr. Chairman  we celebrate this year the fiftieth anniversary of the 
United Nations and of the Charter upon which it is based. Under that 
Charter, each nation affirms its "faith in fundamental human rights, in 
the dignity and worth of the human person, (and) in the equal rights of 
men and women."

In so doing, each nation assumes an obligation not to deprive those 
within its jurisdiction of these fundamental rights, whether in law, 
policy or practice.  The Charter admits no exceptions.  There are no 
grounds of history, culture, economic condition or sovereign prerogative 
that excuse or permit the theft of human dignity.

As members of this organization our governments have acknowledged the 
universal and inalienable nature of human rights.  But  the exercise of 
these rights is not possible in the absence of political freedom.

As the Universal Declaration stipulates,  the will of the people shall 
be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in 
periodic and genuine elections, which shall be by universal and equal 
suffrage and shall be held by secret vote.

My government has made the point for many decades in many forums that 
democratic practices not only protect individuals, but spur economic and 
social progress.  People who are free to think, to exchange ideas and to 
invest their own energies and capital will contribute more to a society 
than those stunted by repression.  The power of this argument, and its 
truth, are on display today in emerging democracies around the world.

Unfortunately, this democratic trend, although widespread, is not 
universal.  Many governments continue to rely not on the consent of the 
governed for their authority, but on coercion.  Burma is one example.

Here, the current governing authorities face an historic choice between 
the continued denial of fundamental rights and movement towards 
democracy.  It is encouraging that the government expresses a desire for 
international respect, foreign investment, tourisin and democratic 
reforin.  It is encouraging that the government has, this past year, released a number of political prisoners1 including Nobel prize-Winner and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

It is, however, very discouraging that the government has failed, thus 
far, to begin a serious political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and 
other representatives of the democratic movement and ethnic groups.  It 
is discouraging that the National Convention called to draft a new 
constitution is not representative of the Burmese people.  And it is 
discouraging that the government has done so little to lift the cloud of 
fear and repression caused by its past and current policies towards 
political and social freedom.

This year, my government will urge the General Assembly to re-state, in 
clear and compelling terms, its support for democracy and respect for 
internationally-recognized human rights in Burma.  The Assembly should 
call for the release of the remaining political prisoners, for an end to 
torture, for an end to forced labor and forced porterage and for an end 
to disappearances and killings of civilians by the military.

The Government of Burma has a choice.  And the international community 
has a choice--  We must choose to encourage Burma to choose wisely: to 
reject the easy, but ultimately disastrous, path of the status quo, and 
to move towards democracy.

The release of Aung San Suu Kyi provides at least the hope that in 
Burma--with sufficient international interest and support--the human 
rights situation will improve.  ((passage on iraq omitted))