Navy Net - Royal Navy Community

This is a sample guest message. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Speech: Burma making significant strides towards reform but challenges still remain

MoD_RSS

War Hero
Ministry of Defence said:
Welcome to the Foreign Office and thank you for coming. A lot of people in Britain care deeply about Burma and it’s good to see so many of you here today.
Burma remains a central foreign policy priority for this Government, and for me personally.
I visited Burma for the first time in December. I spent time in Rangoon and Naypyidaw, but I was also able to visit Rakhine State. My visit left a lasting impression and made me more determined than ever to work for the good of the Burmese people.
Burma continues to make significant strides towards reform. Over the last 18 months, we have seen releases of political prisoners; credible by-elections; initial ceasefire agreements; and steps towards increasing humanitarian access to conflict areas.
We very much welcome these developments. But it is still early days and we want to ensure that progress is sustained and irreversible.
And at the same time, it is clear that significant challenges remain. Political prisoners are still in jail; Kachin State has seen serious armed conflict; UN agencies struggle to gain unhindered humanitarian access; and the Rohingya continue to be denied citizenship and basic rights.
British Government policy will continue to evolve in line with developments. We are engaging with all parties as a constructive, supportive and critical partner, committed to supporting reform moves under the President and Aung San Suu Kyi.
This approach was evident when Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin visited London on 11 February. The Foreign Secretary, DFID Minister Alan Duncan and I welcomed the positive progress that Burma has made. We stressed that our support, not least our substantial aid contributions as the largest bilateral donor, will continue.
But we were also frank in our discussions about the many challenges Burma still faces, including in Kachin and issues affecting the Rohingya. We were equally frank about the action that is needed to tackle these challenges.
[h=3]Political Issues and Human Rights[/h]Human rights remain at the heart of British policy on Burma. During my visit, I raised our concerns on numerous occasions with senior Burmese ministers. My ministerial colleagues and senior officials continue to do so whenever possible.
We make clear that progress in this area remains a key benchmark for judging the depth of the reform process. We will raise our concerns again in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in the coming weeks.
I am particularly keen to see progress on the President’s commitment to open an Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights – which would allow for more constructive relations between the international community and the Burmese government on human rights.
Our action is not only limited to lobbying efforts, important as these are. The British Government is funding grants and mentoring for the Burmese people. In 2011, for example, DFID support to civil society and local community groups helped give more than 36,000 ordinary people greater choice and control over their lives – and we will aim to treble this by 2015.
The Burmese government has taken some positive steps on the release of political prisoners. Of those incarcerated purely on the basis of their political beliefs and actions, it is estimated that around two hundred remain in jail. We welcome the government’s commitment to review the remaining cases and to give the Red Cross access to prisons.
But one political prisoner is one too many, and we will continue to call for their unconditional release – as I did during my visit. We will monitor developments to ensure the government’s review mechanism is credible, transparent and implemented quickly.
It was an honour to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time during my visit. Daw Suu welcomed our efforts to date and urged further action, in particular to help build the capacity of the Burmese parliament. She was grateful that DFID and the House of Commons here put on a superb programme for three Burmese MPs in December.
[h=3]Ethnic Reconciliation[/h]Burma will not achieve sustainable reform and grow as a democracy until the government successfully reconciles with the country’s ethnic groups.
The fighting in Kachin State in recent months has been of particular concern. We were encouraged by the talks between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Organisation on 4 February, subsequent talks on 20 February, and the reduction in violence.
Both sides must return to the negotiating table and continue to work towards lasting peace. We stand ready to support the reconciliation process in whatever way we can. In December DFID announced an additional £1.5 million in humanitarian support for people displaced by the conflict in Kachin. This takes the UK total to £3.5 million, helping around 27,000 people affected by the conflict.
In Rakhine State, the situation appears calmer following the outbreaks of inter-communal violence last year. But tensions remain.
Whilst in Burma I visited five camps and settlements for those displaced by the violence. People had basic shelter and felt more secure, but the camps were overcrowded and squalid. The £2 million we have committed to provide water, sanitation and nutrition support to 58,000 people should help, but I am extremely worried about conditions worsening in the rainy season. We continue to urge EU and other partners to raise their own levels of funding.
I discussed the situation with the Burmese government, as well as local political, religious and community leaders. I pressed the UN and government to improve aid coordination on the ground. I am pleased that, following my visit, a joint Emergency Coordination Centre has now opened in Sittwe. However the Burmese government and the UN need to resource this Centre properly so that it can play its intended role.
We are keen to hear the recommendations of the Investigative Commission set up to look into the causes of violence. We will expect this report to lead to accountability for all perpetrators.
Accountability and aid are important, but the plight of the Rohingya will not be solved until a long term solution to the issue of their citizenship is found.
As I said to those I met in Rakhine, people must be treated fairly and equally. Burma’s 1982 citizenship law does not recognise the Rohingya as one of the national ethnic groups of Burma. The law should conform with international standards. We will continue to liaise closely on this issue with the Burmese government and the UN.
The situation in Rakhine State has caused concern in communities here in the UK: the Government is listening to these concerns and we are working with the Burmese government to make progress. In return, I would urge you to update your communities on developments and inform them about the work that the UK is doing in Burma to aid progress there.
[h=3]Economic Issues[/h]Since the suspension of EU sanctions in April last year, the British Government has made a commitment to promoting responsible trade and investment in support of Burma’s democratic reform process.
We urge all companies considering investing in Burma to abide by international standards of corporate governance and social and environmental responsibility. My colleague Alan Duncan, Minister of State for DFID, is announcing today that DFID will contribute £600,000 of UK funding to establish a Responsible Investment Resource Centre in Rangoon, led by the Institute for Human Rights and Business. This is a strong signal of our support for investment that is good for the UK as well as for the people of Burma.
Responsible investment can make a real difference. One in four people in Burma live in poverty, and three out of four people have no access to electricity: power generation is vital for the lives of ordinary Burmese people as well as for the productivity of the economy.
This was why, in response to a request from the Burmese government, I was joined on my visit by representatives from 15 British businesses in power generation and vocational training. We hope that as a result of the visit, British institutes will be able to provide in-country training for local Burmese people, and a British company will provide legal advice on the government’s draft Electric Power bill.
To conclude, I would like to highlight a couple of other areas of engagement coming up.
Last week we accredited a Defence Attaché in Burma and we will establish a Defence Section in our Embassy in Rangoon later this year. The Burmese military remain a core political force in Burma and will be key to the process of reform. Aung San Suu Kyi specifically recommended the appointment of a Defence Attaché as a key means of engagement with the Burmese military during her meeting with the Prime Minister last year.
Many of you will be aware that the EU Foreign Affairs Council will review sanctions on Burma in April. We have always said that the outcome of this review will depend on the progress that the Burmese government has made against the EU benchmarks set out in January 2012, including the need for meaningful progress in reconciliation with armed ethnic groups. Discussion on this will begin with other EU partners in Brussels over the coming weeks.
Please be assured that the British Government will continue to engage with the Burmese government to shape the process of reform. We want the UK to contribute with meaningful and targeted assistance, whether by reforming the economy, or supporting Burma’s nascent institutions.
We will also ensure that human rights and ethnic reconciliation remain high on the agenda.
My visit convinced me that this is the beginning of a process which could transform the lives of millions of people. This process will not be completed overnight; it will take time. The UK is well placed to continue our engagement and to help keep the reforms taking place on the right track.
[h=3]Further Information[/h]Hugo Swire recently answered questions about the UK’s policy on Burma via twitter
Read about the Minister’s visit to Burma in January
UK commits £600,000 to support responsible investment in Burma
British Embassy in Burma website



More...
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
MoD_RSS Speech: Security Council briefing on the UN Fact-Finding Mission in Burma MoD News 0
MoD_RSS “Beyond the crisis” - speech to the aviation industry MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Christopher Pincher's speech to the District Councils' Network MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lord Chancellor's speech: Legal Wales Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech to NHS Providers MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chair’s speech to the Charity Law Association Annual Conference 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Foreign Secretary’s speech to United Nations General Assembly 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lord Chancellor’s Speech: Opening of the Legal Year Service MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chair's speech to the Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS PM's skills speech: 29 September 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Prime Minister's speech to UN General Assembly: 26 September 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Environment Secretary speech on biodiversity: 24 September 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Matt Warman’s Keynote Speech at Connected Britain 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Robert Jenrick's speech on planning for the future MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Sport Minister's SRA annual conference speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Emma Howard Boyd, Green Summit speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Julia Lopez speech at techUK’s ‘Building the Smarter State’ Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lord Chancellor’s Speech: White Paper Launch - A Smarter Approach to Sentencing MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Robert Jenrick's speech to Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Home Secretary speech at the Police Superintendents' Association conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chartered Institute of Housing 2020: Housing Minister's speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary's speech at meeting of UK, German and French defence ministers MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech to ICAEW Virtual Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lord Chancellor’s Mansion House speech to the judiciary MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chief Secretary to the Treasury delivers his first speech in the role to thinktank Onward MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Universities Minister speech at Festival of Higher Education MoD News 0
MoD_RSS George Eustice speech on environmental recovery: 20 July 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Commander Strategic Command, General Sir Patrick Sanders’ Speech at the Air and Space Power Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Amb Pruce's Speech at the Forum on Youths’ SOGIE & Mental Health
 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary keynote speech at the Air and Space Power Conference 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary Ben Wallace gives a speech at the Air and Space Power Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Alex Chisholm speech at Civil Service Live 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Foreign Secretary speech at India Global Week MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Education Secretary FE speech with Social Market Foundation MoD News 0
MoD_RSS A Plan for Jobs speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Local Government Association annual conference 2020: Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government's speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rushi Sunak, on the future relationship between the UK and Switzerland on financial services MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Environment Secretary speech at the COP26 Business Leaders Event MoD News 0
MoD_RSS PM Economy Speech: 30 June 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Has coronavirus killed globalisation: speech by Laura Clarke MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Digital Secretary's closing speech to the UK Tech Cluster Group MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Fiona MacGregor speech at Digital Housing Week – 22 June 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Leader of the House of Commons speech: 8 June 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Caroline Dinenage's keynote speech for the Founders Forum - Healthtech stage MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Caroline Dinenage's keynote speech at the CogX Createch Stage MoD News 0
MoD_RSS COP26 President speech at Race to Zero campaign launch MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Tourism Minister's speech at the Extraordinary G20 Tourism Ministers' Meeting on Covid-19 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS COP26 President speech at opening of Placencia Ambition Forum MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Gavin Williamson speech on COVID-19 response MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Queen's Counsel Appointments Ceremony 2020: Lord Chancellor speech MoD News 0
Similar threads


















































Latest Threads

New Posts

Top