Delegation of the European Union to the
UN and other international organisations in Geneva

HRC 41 - EU Intervention: Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner - Oral update of the High Commissioner in follow-up to resolution S-27/1 on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar

Geneva, 10/07/2019 - 15:27, UNIQUE ID: 190710_15
Statements on behalf of the EU

41st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council Geneva, 24 June – 12 July 2019 EU Intervention: Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner - Oral update of the High Commissioner in follow-up to resolution S-27/1 on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar

Mr. President,

The European Union thanks the High Commissioner for her oral update to this Council. We also refer to our intervention of 3 July in the Interactive Dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar.

First, I would like to commend again the show of solidarity and hospitality by the Government and the people of Bangladesh to the Rohingya who have fled human rights violations and abuses in Myanmar. The EU is one of the biggest contributors to the Joint Response Plan and we call for countries which have not contributed accordingly to their capabilities, to do so, as the Joint Response Plan is only 25% funded so far.

The reports and updates from OHCHR, the UN Special Rapporteur and the report last year from the International independent Fact-Finding Mission all point to a pattern of gross human rights violations which suggest a widespread and systematic attack against the Rohingya community by the Myanmar military and security forces, possibly amounting to crimes against humanity and in the case of the ongoing fighting against the Arakan Army to war crimes, and call for investigations. They also highlight the attacks and abuses by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the Arakan Army (AA) and other militant groups, as well as the series of violations and abuses in other parts of Myanmar, notably in Kachin, northern Shan and Kayin States.

It is deeply regrettable that, as we approach the second anniversary of the beginning of the Rohingya crisis, the circumstances on the ground in Rakhine have deteriorated significantly.

The ongoing fighting between the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) and the Arakan Army has displaced more than 46,000 people in Rakhine and southern Chin States. Full humanitarian access must be allowed to assist these IDPs and cater for the needs of another 90,000 vulnerable people in these areas. Again, we call on Myanmar to grant unrestricted access to all parts of the country, to all UN mandates and procedures, including the UN Special Rapporteur, the FFM and the Independent Mechanism that was established by this Council last year through a joint resolution presented on behalf of the OIC and the EU.

Most recently we are deeply concerned about the ongoing disruption of internet services imposed on nine townships in Rakhine and Chin States, and we call on the government of Myanmar to immediately restore full internet access that is critical for freedom of expression, for the population's safety and the work of aid agencies.

Mr. President,

We need to collectively ensure that the conditions are met for a safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of refugees from Bangladesh to Rakhine State. Following the renewal of the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with UNHCR and UNDP, the European Union expects the Government of Myanmar to provide the UN and other partners unfettered access to Rakhine State. Transparency is needed to allow for informed decisions about voluntary return. Moreover, we call for transparent and verifiable implementation of the full range of recommendations by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. Assurances on protection from violence, on citizenship rights and mobility, as well as on accountability of perpetrators and justice for victims are still needed to make the return of the displaced Rohingya in line with international law a realistic prospect.

The swift entry into force of the child rights law as recently adopted by the Parliament - provided it is fully in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child including on matters regarding birth registration for all children and protects the right of the child to acquire a nationality/citizenship - would be a welcomed step. A comprehensive action plan with concrete deliverables and timelines on the implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State would also be an important step in the right direction.

We encourage the Myanmar government to engage with the new international investigative mechanism established by the Human Rights Council. We encourage the relevant UN bodies to move rapidly on operationalisation of this mechanism. The mechanism should operate in full recognition of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and cooperate closely with any investigation by the ICC pertaining to the most serious crimes committed by the military and security forces in Myanmar. We recall again the authority of the Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.  We also recall the decision of the ICC Prosecutor in September 2018 and we are closely following the development with the ICC Prosecutor's recent request to proceed with a full investigation.


Madame High Commissioner,

In the fight against against impunity, could you elaborate on the best possible means at the national and international level to ensure accountability and access to remedy for victims, including victims of sexual and gender-based violence? As the Government of Myanmar continues to prefer its Independent Commission of Enquiry, the mandate of which is coming soon to an end, we are interested to learn whether the Chairman of this Commission has reached out to you to seek guidance on how to conduct investigations into mass atrocities and register testimonies?

We would also be interested to hear your views on the recent report and by Gert Rosenthal entitled "A brief and independent inquiry into the involvement of the United Nations in Myanmar from 2010 to 2018" and its findings on "foundations of systemic and structural shortcomings in the UN’s presence in Myanmar". How do you see the reports’ recommendations be taken forward by the UN system more broadly?

Lastly, let me confirm that the European Union stands ready to continue playing its role bilaterally with Myanmar and internationally. The EU is grateful to the growing number of States, including all members of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, for our close cooperation in this Council, including for the support to the EU’s latest resolution on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar adopted by the Council at its 40th session.

Thank you Mr. President.

Editorial Sections: