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Statement of Myanmar Ambassador to

Check against delivery

Statement by

His Excellency U Mya Than
Permanent Representative and
Leader of the Myanmar Observer Delegation

to the fifty-seventh session
of the Commission on Human Rights

on the brief oral presentation by Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro
under Agenda Item 9

Geneva 9 April 2001

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, I should like to extend the warmest congratulations of
my delegation to you on your unanimous election to the chair of the
fifty-seventh session of the Commission on Human Rights. I also wish
to express the deep satisfaction of my delegation with the effective
manner in which you have been conducting the proceedings of the
Commission. We are confident that, under your able leadership, this
session will come to a successful conclusion. [My tribute also goes to
the other members of the Bureau]*

Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on the Situation
of Human Rights in Myanmar, made his brief oral presentation on his
first visit to my country on Friday last.

Mr. Chairman,

Professor Pinheiro's brief oral presentation calls to my mind the
generally-accepted norms concerning the functions of the
country-specific Special Rapporteurs and on the way they should write
their reports on situations of human rights in the respective

Mr. Chairman,

Undoubtedly, the proper role of the country-specific Special
Rapporteur is to be a neutral, independent observer and to write a
report on the situation of human rights in the country concerned in an
unbiased and balanced manner. He must, therefore, abide by the
universally-accepted principles of objectivity, non-selectivity and
impartiality in dealing with the questions of human rights, which are
enshrined in the Final Declaration of the World Conference on Human
Rights, held in Vienna in 1993, and other legal instruments on
promotion and protection of human rights.

Mr. Chairman,

I mention this on purpose, because it is the very basis on which the
mechanism of the country-specific Special Rapporteurs operates.

Whether the country-specific Special Rapporteurs have actually
operated on that basis and whether they have met the above-mentioned
criteria and whether they have performed their functions properly are
the questions that the Commission on Human Rights and the delegations,
directly concerned, will have to address.

Mr. Chairman,

This explains why my Government had declined to accept the proposed
visits of Mr. Lallah, the former Special Rapporteur on the Situation
of Human Rights in Myanmar.

Mr. Chairman,

The reasons are crystal clear, sound and rock-solid. Mr. Lallah
deviated widely from these established norms. His reports were very
much biased, partial and slanted against Myanmar. Much as we desired
to cooperate with the United Nations and the Commission on Human
Rights, we had been compelled, for the reasons stated above, to
decline the proposed visits of Mr. Lallah. And we had no other choice
but to categorically reject and dissociate from those resolutions,
which were largely based on the texts in Mr. Lallah's reports.

It is now time that this negative approach and the unfair treatment of
Myanmar be replaced by a positive approach and a fair treatment of
Myanmar on the part of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of
Human Rights in Myanmar and the proponents of the draft resolution on
my country.

Mr. Chairman,

I am glad that Professor Pinheiro has taken a positive approach. And
rightly so,

Judging on the main thrust and the contents of the brief oral
presentation by the Special Rapporteur, it is quite fairly balanced
and quite positive. Much more so than the misrepresentations of facts
in his predecessor Mr. Lallah's reports.

In his brief oral presentation Professor Pinheiro made the following

"I would like to acknowledge and express my gratitude for the full
cooperation I received from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the
Director-General of the Department of International Organizations, and
the Permanent Representative of the Union of Myanmar in Geneva, prior
and during my visit to the country."

"I believe that the country is currently about to enter a new phase
which the Commission of Human Rights and the International community
must acknowledge and act upon."

"I take note of a series of steps taken by the Government recently,
including their willingness to engage with the United Nations and the
international community by entering into a dialogue with the Human
Rights Commission through the Special Rapporteur, and their continued
cooperation with the Secretary General's envoy, Ambassador Razali."

"I take note with satisfaction that the government of Myanmar has
constituted a 20-member Human Rights Committee under the patronage of
Secretary (1) of the State Peace and Development Council in April
2000. The Committee has eight working groups dealing with issues
ranging from international human rights law, health, education and
labour. During my mission I had an opportunity to meet with the
Committee and have a brief exchange of views on the human rights
situation in Myanmar. [The work of the
Committee is clearly in its very early stages, which makes an
objective assessment difficult at present.]"*

"I take note of information received from reliable sources that in
some areas where the authorities have accepted independent
observation, such as in prisons, there has reportedly been much
[some]** improvement."

"I believe that, despite not being able to carry out a full
fact-finding mission during the short time since my appointment in
December, there are several signs that indicate an evolution leading
to an eventual political opening."

"Any positive initiative must be acknowledged and encouraged by the
international community, which must be prepared to offer positive
answers to any indicators of real progress towards democratisation and
strengthening of human rights protection."

"I am convinced that the deepening of the isolation of Myanmar should
be avoided. If the international community wants to contribute for the
promotion of human rights, it is necessary to find ways to increase
the integration of Myanmar into the international community."

Mr Chairman,

The afore-mentioned quotations from Professor Pinheiro's brief oral
presentation clearly demonstrate that the Myanmar Government has
goodwill; it is acting in good faith and with sincerity; and that it
has fully cooperated with the Special Rapporteur to the extent
possible during his recent visit to Myanmar by extending all the
assistance, sought by him, and by making all the necessary

Furthermore, Professor Pinheiro's oral presentation also goes a long
way in rectifying and enhancing the image of Myanmar, which has been
negatively portrayed by the anti-Myanmar Government elements and the
Western media. It clearly demonstrates that Myanmar, the reality that
he has discovered during his visit, is a far cry from the false
allegations, levelled at my country.

Mr. Chairman,

In view of the time constraint and the requirement for brevity of
interventions, I only wish to refresh the memory of the members and
observer delegations in this room on some pointers to the recent
encouraging developments in Myanmar.

- For the first time in 6 years, the Government of the Union of
Myanmar has accepted the visit of the newly-appointed Special
Rapporteur Professor Pinheiro. The Special Rapporteur's visit took
place just a few days ago from 3 to 5 April 2001.

The Myanmar authorities have fully cooperated with the Special
Rapporteur to the extent possible during his visit to Myanmar with the
result that the Special Rapporteur's visit turned out to be a success.

- The Special Rapporteur Professor Pinheiro made his brief oral
presentation on his visit to Myanmar at the meeting of the Commission
on Human Rights on Friday last. This presentation is fairly balanced,
and reflects the positive developments taking place in Myanmar.

- Mr. Razali Ismail, Special Representative of the United Nations
Secretary-General also paid a fruitful visit to Myanmar in January
2001. (He had visited Myanmar twice before in July and October 2000.)

- The Government has recently released 85 persons in January and 16
more in March 2001, respectively. This gives the lie to the unfounded
allegations of "the increasing repression" by the Government.

- The Government has established a Steering Committee at the highest
level, headed by Lt-General Khin Nyunt, Secretary (1) of the State
Peace and Development Council and a Human Rights Committee, headed by
Col Tin Hlaing, Minister for Home Affairs. These bodies are carrying
out preparatory work and will pave the way for the establishment, in
due course, of a full-fledged institution on promotion and protection
of human rights.

- While my country has ceased cooperation with the ILO for the time
being in relation to Convention 29 on account of the unfair treatment
of my country and the unwarranted imposition of drastic measures under
Article 33 of the ILO Constitution, Myanmar has shown its goodwill and
positive gesture. His Excellency U Khin Maung Win, Deputy Minister for
Foreign Affairs, came to Geneva, on his way to South America to attend
an international conference, and held talks with Mr. Juan Somavia,
Director-General of the ILO on 22 March 2001.

- There are also other activities going on in Myanmar by way of
promoting human rights and raising the awareness of human rights. The
Myanmar Government, in cooperation with Mr. Chris Sidoti, the former
Australian Commissioner for Human Rights, has been organizing
workshops and seminars on human rights in Yangon from July 2000

- Contrary to the much-publicized allegations, schools and
universities are open, and students from kindergarten to post-graduate
classes have been pursuing their studies peacefully.

[- There  have been many more positive developments in other areas, as
well, in my country in the past one year.]*

Mr. Chairman,

These are just a few pointers to the recent positive developments in
Myanmar. I shall dwell at a greater length on the endeavours and the
concrete achievements of the Myanmar Government in my next

Mr. Chairman,

May I reiterate here for the record that we do not accept that there
have been violations of human rights in Myanmar, as portrayed by the
anti-Government elements and the Western media. Nor do we accept that
there be any need for having a resolution on the situation of human
rights in Myanmar. This remains to be the official position of the
Myanmar Government.

Nevertheless, we are ready and willing to cooperate with the United
Nations and the Commission on Human Rights to the extent possible
under the prevailing circumstances.

This cooperation has resumed between the Commission on Human Rights
and Myanmar with the fruitful visit of the Special Rapporteur to
Myanmar just a few days ago.

Professor Pinheiro has made a good start as the Special Rapporteur on
the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar.

We, on our part, have demonstrated our goodwill and willingness to
cooperate. The full cooperation on the part of the Myanmar authorities
to the extent possible has contributed to the success of the first
visit of the Special Rapporteur to my country.

We do hope that Professor Pinheiro will follow through with his
positive approach in the future, as well. With the proviso that he
does so, it will enhance the possibility of the continuation of our
cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights.

Let us, therefore, accentuate the positive, and promote a cooperative
approach, rather than a coercive one.

I thank you Mr. Chairman

*  The text in square brackets was in the printed text, but not read
out. Since the note "Check against delivery" heads the printed text,
the oral delivery is authoritative.

** The  word used by the Special Rapporteur in his oral presentation
was "some", which also appears in the printed text of the Ambassador's
statement. However, the word actually read out by His Excellency was