Rohingyas : our collective responsibility is imperative [fr]
Briefing by Chairperson of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United NationsRetour ligne automatique
Security Council – 24 October 2018
I would like to begin by warmly thanking Mr. Marzuki Darusman, Chairperson of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar, for his chilling and insightful briefing and more broadly for the outstanding work that his team has carried out, professionally and independently, in difficult conditions. The 875 interviews conducted, along with the variety of information sources used, attest to the solidity of the work that he has done. Let me also take the opportunity to emphasize the importance for the Security Council to continue to rely upon the work of the instruments established by the Human Rights Council in order to fully carry out its mandate to maintain international peace and security.
Since the violence of August 2017, France has consistently underlined its concern and called for the mobilization of the Security Council in response to what President Macron, echoing the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has described since September 2017 as “ethnic cleansing”. France is extremely concerned about the findings of the fact-finding mission’s report (A/HRC/39/64), according to which charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes — committed in particular against the Rohingya in Rakhine state but also in Kachin and Shan states — could be brought against the Burmese army and security forces. The fact-finding mission’s report concludes in paragraph 85 that on the basis of “reasonable inference”, there are factors “that have allowed genocidal intent to be established ”. It also notes that attacks and sexual violence committed by the Burmese army in villages, including against children, constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law that may constitute war crimes.
Establishing the facts is essential if justice is to one day be done and to enabling genuine reconciliation. And the facts that have been presented to us, along with their merciless premeditation, amount to the highest level of severity within the scale of international crimes. The Security Council cannot turn a blind eye to those facts, unless it relinquishes its own responsibilities and renounces its very raison d’être. If the Security Council feels that such a situation does not concern it, what situation would? Let us also be aware that our action or inaction in response to the tragedy is being closely watched by all those who could commit comparable atrocities. This means that our collective responsibility is imperative, now and in the future. May Mr. Darusman’s message and warning be clearly heard by all.
The sentencing on 3 September of two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison by the Burmese courts, while they were preparing a report on the serious allegations of human rights violations in the Rakhine state, is the latest example of the climate of fear that hinders the investigative efforts on the ground. It constitutes a serious violation of the freedom of the press. On behalf of France, I reiterate the call for the release of those two journalists.
In that context, and in accordance with the presidential statement adopted by the Council almost a year ago (S/PRST/2017/22), we must remain mobilized around three main and complementary priorities.
The first is humanitarian support for the Rohingyas who remain in Rakhine state and to refugees in the camps in Bangladesh. In Burma, the tripartite agreement concluded in June by the Burmese authorities, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Development Programme was an important step, but its implementation by the Burmese authorities must be significantly accelerated. The restoration of unhindered humanitarian access to all affected villages in Rakhine state is urgent to meet the needs of the population. It is also urgent for the displaced Rohingya people in Rakhine state to regain full freedom of movement and access to basic services. In Bangladesh, we reiterate our appreciation for the exceptional generosity of the authorities and the people, and for the outstanding work being carried out by United Nations agencies and humanitarian organizations. As long as the conditions for their voluntary, dignified and sustainable return are not met, international assistance will remain essential to supporting Rohingya refugees living in extremely precarious conditions.
The second priority is the effective implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, formerly led by Kofi Annan, for which we have been calling for more than a year. The Commission proposed a road map, which the Burmese Government has accepted and the Security Council has endorsed, to enable all the people of Rakhine state to live together in peace. France reiterates in particular the importance of the recommendations on the question of citizenship and the revision of the 1982 law, as well as equal rights, including the right of access to public services, health care and education for all persons belonging to the Rohingya community.
The report contains other very relevant recommendations on the freedom of movement, the socioeconomic development of the Arakan and the fight against discrimination against all minorities that, if effectively implemented, would constitute important confidence-building measures allowing for the voluntary return of refugees in accordance with international law. Through that, what is at stake is the possibility of a stable, inclusive and democratic rule of law in Burma, governed by a civilian power and based on the equal recognition and citizenship of all, without distinction.
Finally, the third priority, which is inseparable from the first two, is the fight against impunity. We call on the international community to identify all the consequences of the conclusions of the fact-finding mission. The decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 6 September, which concluded that the Court has jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of Rohingya from Burma to Bangladesh, is an important step in the fight against impunity. We welcome the decision of the Court’s Prosecutor, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, to open a preliminary review of the allegations and reiterate our full support for the Prosecutor and the ICC in their ongoing work.
The decision of the Human Rights Council to establish an independent and permanent investigative mechanism is also a very important step. France calls on all States and regional and international bodies to support the rapid operationalization of that mechanism, which will allow for the collection and preservation of evidence concerning all allegations of crimes committed in Burma. We call on all States to cooperate with the ICC and the mechanism. The evidence collected will be used in proceedings before competent national or international jurisdictions. Finally, we call on the Burmese commission of inquiry to cooperate with all United Nations bodies and mandate-holders.
The situation of extreme distress of the Rohingya population is a crushing blow to the human conscience and violates all the norms and values that inspire and form the basis of the United Nations. That is why we must step up our efforts and our collective commitment to shedding light on the crimes that have been committed in order for justice to be done and for the Rohingyas who wish to return to Burma to do so in dignified, safe and sustainable conditions. The United Nations has a vital role to play, and we recall in that regard our support for the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. France will continue to be actively engaged with respect to this major crisis and stands ready to consider all the options available to the Council to contribute to a lasting solution.