Norway wishes to thank the Special Rapporteur for his thorough report. The situation is changing fast in Myanmar, and we find that the Special Rapporteur is doing an impressive job in keeping up with recent developments, while rightfully maintaining focus on the remaining challenges. We appreciate the cooperation demonstrated by the government of Myanmar during the Special Rapporteur’s recent mission to the country.
We share the Special Rapporteur’s view that the changes we have seen over the past year and a half has been remarkable. The release of hundreds of political prisoners, a more open and free media and public debate, lively election campaigns, and cease-fires in several of the ethnic areas are just a few of these changes.
It is our hope that the Special Rapporteur’s successful visit marks the beginning of a closer dialogue on human rights issues between Myanmar and the UN. Norway therefore supports a strengthening of the OHCHR’s work in Myanmar. Not least in the field of capacity building within the judiciary, where the Special Rapporteur reports of what seems to be a lack of openness to face the challenges ahead. This is worrying, because one of the defining characteristics of the on-going reform, and an important reason for our optimism, is the government’s openness and frankness when it comes to the challenges they are facing. Lack of a competent and impartial judiciary seriously hampers both human and economic development. We therefore hope the government and judiciary of Myanmar will listen to the Special Rapporteur’s call to seek assistance from the OHCHR and other regional and international actors. We also support the Special Rapporteur in his appeal to the government of Myanmar to seek aid from OHCHR to establish a comprehensive strategy for legislative reform, and to strengthen the National Human Rights Commission.
The international community’s engagement in Myanmar has undoubtedly strengthened the reforms. Capacity building and foreign expertise is needed. At the same time we must not forget that the reform process has been and must continue to be domestically driven and owned. We would like to hear the Special Rapporteur’s views on how the UN and the international community best can contribute to positive change in Myanmar, while avoiding distortion of local ownership.
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