UN Special Representative Ms. Pramila Patten concludes her visit in Myanmar and calls for concrete implementation of Government’s commitments to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence
- At the invitation of the Government of Myanmar, I conducted a 4-day visit to Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw from 5 to 8 February 2019. This was my second visit in the country and it followed the signing of a Joint Communiqué between the United Nations and the Government of Myanmar to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV).
(Yangon/New York - Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict)
At the invitation of the Government of Myanmar, I conducted a 4-day visit to Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw from 5 to 8 February 2019. This was my second visit in the country and it followed the signing of a Joint Communiqué between the United Nations and the Government of Myanmar to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV).
The Joint Communiqué is premised on UN Security Council resolution 2106 (2013) which calls for specific time-bound commitments to combat sexual violence and requires concrete actions to be undertaken by the Myanmar Armed Forces such as the issuance of clear orders through chain of command to prohibit sexual violence and accountability for breaching these orders as well as timely investigation of all alleged abuses. The Joint Communiqué also outlines six priority “preventive measures” as areas for cooperation between the United Nations and the Government of Myanmar covering legislative reforms and strengthening of the rule of law; capacity-building of the security and justice sectors; enhanced access to affected population for timely delivery of life-saving services to survivors of sexual violence; inclusion of provisions on prevention and response to CRSV in peace and repatriation agreements including in transitional justice mechanisms; exclusion from amnesties of perpetrators of sexual violence crimes; and risk-mitigation of conflict-related trafficking for the purpose of sexual violence/ exploitation.
During my visit, I had the opportunity to substantively engage with Government officials and in particular with the Ministers of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement; Defence; International Cooperation; Office of the State Counsellor; the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and the Union Attorney General. I also met with representatives from women’s civil society organizations, international NGOs, United Nations and diplomatic community.
The meetings with the Ministers were constructive and I am encouraged by a range of policy and legal reform initiatives underway. I offered the support of my Office and of the United Nations to align those efforts with international standards and to ensure that they specifically address conflict-related sexual violence. Specifically, I call for the wide dissemination of the newly-adopted Guidelines for caring of survivors of sexual violence and for improved referrals mechanisms between social protection, health, legal and justice actors. I also call on the Government to ensure that the draft Prevention of Violence against Women law is fully in line with international standards and urge for its adoption without further delay.
The signing of the Joint Communiqué in December 2018 is a positive signal given by the Government of Myanmar and during my visit concrete steps to kick start the implementation of the commitments taken by the Government in the Joint Communiqué have been identified including the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial infrastructure.
However, as conflict is ongoing, it is critical that efforts are undertaken by all parties to prevent conflict-related sexual violence. I further call upon all parties to the conflict to distinguish between civilians and combatants, to allow civilians to seek safety and access humanitarian assistance, and to prevent retaliation against victims, their families or service providers who support them.