People lack confidence in peace negotiations: UN Special Rapporteur
21 February 2014: Tomás Ojea Quintana, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, suggested that peace negotiations between the Central government and ethnic armed groups need to be strengthened and well monitored.
During his press conference last Wednesday, he said that the lack of grass roots participation in ceasefire negotiations means that people lack confidence in the implementation of agreements that have been signed.
Mr. Quintana also said in his statement: “The implementation of ceasefire agreements has been poor due to the absence of monitoring mechanisms.”
“What is now needed is further trust building between the Government and the ethnic armed groups,” added the Argentinian rights expert, who had just finished his final trip as a UN Special Rapporteur to Burma.
His recent six-day visits included Arakan State, Kachin State, the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, and the copper mines in Monywa of Sagaing Region.
While welcoming positive changes that have been happening, Mr. Quintana said: “Whatever the course of these negotiations, military and non-state actors need to abide by humanitarian and human rights law.”
He also highlighted the fact that the military still retains power in the country as he called for a ‘change of mind-set’ within all levels of the government to improve the current situation that is still limited in terms of freedom.
Despite ceasefire agreements and negotiations with ethnic armed groups, the authorities reinforce their military presence in ethnic areas rather than ‘drawing back troop numbers’, according to the Special Rapporteur.
It is believed that a national ceasefire accord will be signed by April this year.
He also called for holding an inclusive political dialogue immediately after the signing of the nationwide ceasefire accord, adding: “This will do much to bridge the gaps in trust.”
Tomás Ojea Quintana made his statement at Rangoon International Airport at the end of his ninth visit to the country after six years as the independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the human rights situation in Burma.#