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21st HRC Regular Session – Oral Statement Item 3: Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development – General Debate

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Thank you, Madam President. With a number of Asian States undergoing transitional processes following situations of armed conflict, authoritarianism, communal hostility and political violence, FORUM-ASIA stresses to governments in the Asian region that reconciliation is not a trade-off to be conceived as a substitute for justice. FORUM-ASIA reiterates the statement of the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence, Mr. Pablo de Greiff, during the interactive dialogue held on Tuesday 11 September that “reconciliation… calls for the implementation of a comprehensive approach that includes justice, truth, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence, for these are not random initiatives but parts of a comprehensive whole”. FORUM-ASIA also urges Asian States to seriously take stock of the Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity (E/CN.4/2005/102/Add.1).

Madam President, FORUM-ASIA is particularly concerned that many Asian States take a similar view to that expressed by the Sri Lankan government on Tuesday during the interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteur Mr. de Greiff that “reconciliation needs to be context-specific, taking into account the particularities of each State and the aspirations of its people” as a way to avoid addressing issues of accountability thoroughly. Rather, FORUM-ASIA urges that context-specific scenarios involve placing the victims of human rights violations at the very centre of any reconciliation process with their meaningful participation in establishing the facts, in developing measures for rendering justice and in designing schemes for reparations. The “locally tailored responses” alluded to by the Sri Lankan government requires the trust of victims in order to be credible, including through the genuine record of testimonials and witness protection programs.

Madame President, addressing accountability is primarily possible through ensuring institutions contain the trust of the population. As the Special Rapporteur highlighted, “trusting an institution amounts to knowing that its constitutive rules, values and norms are shared by its members or participants and are regarded by them as binding”. In this light, we reiterate our call for independent, impartial and credible investigations1 into gross and systematic violations of human rights in Burma/Myanmar, particularly in ethnic nationality areas, which include attacks against civilians, extrajudicial executions, sexual violence, internal displacement, land confiscation, the use of human shields as well as forced labour and portering. FORUM-ASIA also echoes the call from the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Mr. Thomas Ojea Quintana, who stated on 4 August 2012 after his most recent visit to the country, that a truth commission be created by the Parliament which must be inclusive of all stakeholders including victims to address grievances from decades of conflict in the country. Thank you, Madam President.

  • FORUM-ASIA, 19th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council, Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, 13 March 2012,

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