Joint Press Release
Myanmar and the European Union (EU) hold second bilateral Human Rights Dialogue
1. The second Myanmar-EU Human Rights Dialogue was held in Nay Pyi Taw on 18 June 2015. The Dialogue was preceded by a Civil Society Forum on 17 June in Yangon, where the human rights situation in both the EU and Myanmar was discussed with civil society and human rights defenders, as well as by bilateral meetings with various stakeholders.
2. The second Myanmar-EU Human Rights Dialogue was opened by His Excellency U Wunna Maung Lwin, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, and was co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs, U Aung Lynn and the Head of Delegation of the European Union, Ambassador Roland Kobia. Union Minister for President Office (3) U Soe Thane and Union Minister for President Office (4) U Aung Min also witnessed the opening, as well as the Deputy Minister for Defence, Commodore Aung Thaw and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs U Tin Oo Lwin.
3. During the dialogue, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to continued and strengthened dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights on the basis of shared values and international human rights standards. The EU underlined its strong commitment to continue supporting Myanmar’s democratic transition and reforms and to further deepen bilateral ties on this basis.
4. The day-long discussion covered the full range of human rights issues, including prisoners of conscience and improving conditions of detention, land rights, labour rights, migration and the human rights of migrants, non-discrimination, the legal framework for the fight against intolerance and the protection of minorities in the EU and Myanmar, human rights cooperation in international human rights fora and the ratification of core human rights treaties. During the dialogue, both sides exchanged best practices and provided updates on ongoing efforts to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights.
5. On migration, the two sides discussed the main challenges and lessons learned from recent events in the Mediterranean and the Andaman Sea, agreeing on the importance of saving lives and protecting the human rights of the affected populations. The EU welcomed and encouraged regional initiatives to combat people smuggling and human trafficking in countries of origin, transit and destination and to provide necessary assistance. The EU underlined the importance of addressing the root causes of irregular migration in national and regional contexts, including economic factors and human rights concerns.
6. Both sides also provided updates on the legal framework for the protection of persons belonging to minorities and ongoing efforts to promote non-discrimination, including in the context of Roma in EU Member States and the situation in Rakhine State. The four bills on the ‘’protection of race and religion’’ were also raised by the EU. Human rights being universal and inalienable, the EU reiterated its concerns over the proposed legislation with Myanmar’s international human rights obligations. In this context, both sides agreed on the need to fight intolerance and incitement to hatred and violence in order to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights for persons belonging to minorities, including freedom of religion and belief.
7. On land rights, the two sides agreed on the importance of public consultations towards developing an effective legal framework covering access to land, security of tenure for small holder farmers and the resolution of land disputes.
8. On labour rights, both sides committed to continue cooperation in the framework of the “Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labour Rights and Practices” which the EU joined in May 2015. Myanmar and the EU discussed the need for a strengthened legal framework for labour rights as well as improved law enforcement in order to promote responsible investment and equitable economic growth.
9. Both delegations agreed that 2015 will be a landmark year in Myanmar’s democratisation process with general elections taking place later this year. The EU expressed its expectation that elections will be inclusive, credible and transparent. Myanmar reiterated its unwavering determination to conduct free and fair elections in accordance with international standards and expressed appreciation of the EU’s recent exploratory mission that assessed the feasibility of sending an EU Election Observation Mission later this year.
10. Myanmar and the EU discussed a wide range of multilateral issues to help deepen mutual understanding, and to enhance cooperation. The EU welcomed Myanmar’s ongoing cooperation with the OHCHR in the field of human rights and encouraged Myanmar to allow the opening of a country office.
11. While the issue of human rights will continue to be a key aspect of the permanent dialogue between Myanmar and the EU, both sides agreed that the next formal dialogue round should be held in Brussels in 2016.