Address by Bob Rae, Special Envoy to Myanmar, to the 15th Meeting, 39th Regular Session, Human Rights Council


September 18, 2018 - Geneva, Switzerland

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

Mr. President:

Canada shares the global sense of outrage aroused by the findings of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar: the evidence of gross human rights violations and abuses committed in [Myanmar’s] Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states that would, if confirmed and proven, amount to grave crimes under international law. The extent of the human rights violations alleged in Rakhine State has shocked the international community.

The allegations of political mass killings, gang rapes and sexual violence, and the burning of Rohingya villages, along with the evidence supporting genocidal intent, warrant an investigation into the liability of senior military officials for genocide.

The fact-finding mission’s findings hold deep resonance for me as Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar. I also bore witness to the devastation suffered by the Rohingya people first-hand during my many visits to Cox’s Bazar [Bangladesh].

Decades of severe and systemic persecution of minorities coupled with a climate of hate speech have created the conditions for this humanitarian and human rights crisis. For the Rohingya forced to flee, living conditions are extreme, exacerbated by the ever-present risk of disease and natural disasters. The humanitarian appeal is now grossly underfunded, and much more must be done.

There is no room for complacency. Now is the time for resolute action. 

Canada calls for the extension to the fact-finding mission’s mandate and the early establishment of an accountability mechanism. There is an urgent need to preserve evidence and to initiate measures so that the perpetrators are promptly held accountable. 

We are steadfast in our commitment to working with all the communities to implement the fact-finding mission’s recommendations and to seek accountability.

Our further question is: how can the specific needs of women and children, so clearly the victims in this circumstance, be reflected appropriately to ensure gender-sensitive investigations?

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