Women are essential to the peace and reconciliation process in Myanmar, a country ruled by a military junta for almost fifty years. Sexual violence during the years of armed conflict has been systematic but has been largely overlooked due to a culture of widespread impunity, the extent of which has led to some concern that the government may have tacitly approved of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Women and girls have been disproportionately affected by a systematic failure to invest in basic services like healthcare and education. As the Head of Government, prominent female leader Aung San Suu Kyi has used her wide popular and political support to advocate for the participation of women in leadership roles and gender equality; however, domestic laws remain that are contrary to the advancement of gender equality. Based on the work of NGOWG members and their partners, the NGOWG advocates that international mechanisms be utilized to investigate human rights abuses in Myanmar, including by ensuring that the UN country team expands support for local organizations and conducts regular and systematic reporting on the human rights situation in Myanmar, including the rights of women.
AprilThe Security Council should ensure it remains apprised of the situation in Myanmar, particularly regarding the April elections. While supporting these elections, the Council should ensure human rights abuses are not met with impunity, and should urge continued democratic reforms. Ongoing violence, including human rights abuses, between the Myanmar government and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has resulted in the displacement of approximately 75,000 Kachin since June 2011. Given this situation, Council members should press all actors, including the Myanmar government and the KIA, to act in accordance with relevant international legal obligations, particularly with respect to humanitarian access. As part of that effort, international mechanisms should be utilized to investigate human rights abuses, including by ensuring that the UN country team expands support for local organizations, and conducts regular and systematic reporting on the human rights situation in Myanmar and its ethnic conflict areas, including the rights of women.
NovemberThe NGOWG expects that the Security Council will request a briefing on Myanmar by the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, Vijay Nambiar regarding his five-day visit to the country from 31 October. In that briefing, the Council is urged to request an update on the due release of all remaining prisoners of conscience, the security situation in conflict-affected areas, measures taken by the Government to bring suspected perpetrators of crimes including crimes of sexual violence and crimes against humanity, and women’s political participation.
NovemberThe Myanmar government will hold its first elections in 20 years on 7 November 2010 against a backdrop of persistent political repression and systematic violence that has been repeatedly reported on and condemned by the UN, including the Security Council. There are more than 2,200 political prisoners in Myanmar, including women such as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mie Mie, and Su Su Nway, despite continued UN calls to release them. The UN Secretary-General has reported on sexual violence and other crimes against women in Myanmar (S/2009/362), and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has reiterated that the UN, including the Security Council, can establish a commission of inquiry into crimes against humanity (A/65/368). The Council is therefore urged to:
- Immediately express its concern regarding the upcoming elections, including the restriction of free speech and the cracking down on those in Myanmar supporting the calls for the release of political prisoners.
- Request regular briefings on Myanmar and respond accordingly. Such briefings should consider, inter alia, any action, or lack thereof, by the Myanmar government to release women political prisoners; ensure justice including full reparations for survivors of gender crimes; and repeal or amend domestic legislation, including the 2008 Constitution, to ensure compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law.
- Consider the establishment of an international commission of inquiry, to investigate reports of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Myanmar by all parties, and to identify the perpetrators of such violations to ensure that those responsible for these crimes are brought to justice.
February 6, 2017
January 13, 2014
November 4, 2011
November 5, 2010