EU Statement – UN General Assembly: Briefing by the SG’s Special Envoy on Myanmar

16 March 2023, New York – European Union Statement delivered by H.E. Ambassador Silvio GONZATO, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly: Briefing of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, to the General Assembly


 - Check against delivery -


Mr President, Madam Special Envoy,


The European Union and its Member States welcome today’s discussion, pursuant to resolution 77/227, which the EU presented together with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, during the last session of the Third Committee.


Over the recent months and weeks, the most egregious crimes, including what, according to the  Independent Investigate Mechanism for Myanmar, may amount to crimes against humanity, have continued to be committed by the Myanmar armed and security forces. Two weeks ago, soldiers captured and beheaded six members of the People's Defence Force, including two children aged 12 and 13, in Sagaing Region; a few days later they killed 17 civilians, and tortured, disembowelled and decapitated a PDF fighter. Increasingly, the Myanmar military cuts up and disfigures bodies of civilians. Sexual abuses continue unabated, as do the practice of burning down villages. Terror happens every day, everywhere in Myanmar.


Since the February 2021 military coup, over 3,100 civilians have been killed. The number of Internally Displaced Persons in Myanmar was 300,000 before the coup; it is now estimated to 1.7 million, and the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Myanmar has increased to 17.6 million – compared to one million before the military coup! 16,000 people are currently detained, 145 persons have been sentenced to death, and 55,000 houses have been torched.


Human rights defenders, women movements, families of the victims of crimes, torture, rape, and other grave abuses,  representatives of ethnic and religious minorities, who are increasingly subjected to the junta’s repression and violence and whose basic rights are violated, are legitimately asking this question: what does the UN do while we severely suffer and die? What does the international community do to end the bloodshed and to help with the multifaceted crisis?


The EU sees today’s briefing not only as an opportunity for the General Assembly to be informed by the Special Envoy about the dramatic human rights situation in Myanmar, including  the extremely worrying situation of persons belonging to the Rohingya ethnic minority and other ethnic and religious minorities, as requested by the Third Committee resolution, but also as an important moment to reiterate that a stronger UN action is not only needed but overdue.


Myanmar must stay a priority for the UN. Security Council resolution 2669, adopted in December 2022, the first such resolution on Myanmar adopted by the Security Council in its history, was a key milestone in stepping up the international community’s response to the crisis. It must be the starting point for UN mobilisation towards solutions respecting the will of the people of Myanmar and their aspirations of peace, security, freedom and democracy, as expressed in the general elections of 8 November 2020.


Your mandate, Madam Special Envoy, but also the mandates of the Secretary General and of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the responsibility of the Security Council are central in the UN response to the crimes, including what, according to IIMM, may amount to crimes against humanity, committed every day in Myanmar.


Mr President, Madam Special Envoy,


The EU is strongly engaged on all fronts in Myanmar: humanitarian assistance, political contacts with ASEAN and other partners, and strong support to the fight against impunity, to which the Independent Investigate Mechanism for Myanmar, the ICC and the ICJ make a valuable contribution. The EU has adopted last month a sixth round of sanctions against the junta. On the eve of international women’s day, the EU adopted additional sanctions targeting several individuals and entities linked to serious human rights violations and abuses, particularly sexual and gender-based violence in Myanmar.


The pressure against the regime must increase for the junta to stop terrorising and killing its own population. The military regime must implement fully and faithfully ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus as it had agreed to during the extraordinary ASEAN Summit of 24 April 2021. The democratic opposition in Myanmar deserves more support from the international community to help it prepare the return to a democratic path in the country.


Last week, the Delegation of the EU to the UN organised with UNICEF and the Mission of Bangladesh a meeting focused on the Rohingya refugee children’s needs in Bangladesh highlighting the main challenges for children in Cox’s Bazaar and the unaddressed level of humanitarian needs. The resolution presented by the EU and the OIC in the Third Committee, as well as the EU resolution currently negotiated in Geneva in the framework of the Human Rights Council, aim at keeping the situation of human rights in Myanmar prominently at the UN agenda.


Mr President, Madam Special Envoy,


The gravest human rights violations in Myanmar are facilitated and aggravated by the continued supply by some member of this Assembly of lethal assistance to Myanmar’s military regime, and by the involvement of foreign actors, including private military companies, in the repression against civilians and the resistance movement. The European Union continues to urge all countries to immediately stop the sale or transfer of arms, military equipment, materiel, dual-use equipment, and technical assistance to Myanmar, in line with UN General Assembly Resolution 75/287.

Madam Special Envoy,


We welcome the contacts you have been keeping with different stakeholders, and encourage you to continue to develop an inclusive dialogue with members of the democratic opposition to the junta, civil society organisations, including those representing women and youth, as well as all minorities, bearing in mind that these groups are among the ones most targeted by the Myanmar security and armed forces.


Resolution 77/227 underlines the importance of close cooperation between the different Special Envoys for Myanmar. Could you please elaborate on this issue, which the EU sees as key to enable any progress in the Myanmar crisis?


Regarding humanitarian aid, a number of players, most recently the National Unity Government, have pointed out that humanitarian assistance to Myanmar remains largely ineffective, as programmes are mainly concentrated in Yangon Region and do not provide aid effectively to other regions where the need for humanitarian aid is urgent. What is your recommendation to improve aid effectiveness?


I thank you.