Activities of Secretary-General in Myanmar, 11-13 November
United Nations Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon‑taek, arrived in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar, from New York, via Incheon, late in the evening of 11 November, to attend the twenty-fifth annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
Prior to attending the official opening ceremony of the Summit, the Secretary‑General had a bilateral meeting with Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Viet Nam. The Secretary‑General thanked the Prime Minister for Viet Nam's leading role in the Delivering as One process and support for building the Green One UN House. They exchanged views on the ASEAN-United Nations partnership and the South China Sea. The Secretary‑General and the Prime Minister also discussed the post-2015 sustainable development goals.
On the margins of the opening ceremony, the Secretary‑General met with Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia. They exchanged views on the ASEAN-United Nations partnership, agreeing on the need to further strengthen cooperation. They also discussed the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The Secretary‑General thanked the Prime Minister for the Government's payment of the salaries of the national staff working for ECCC and asked for the continued support for ECCC in 2015, including regarding the salary payments.
As part of his visit to Myanmar, the Secretary‑General met with leaders of local private sector companies who are members of the United Nations Global Compact initiative. He told the business leaders that embracing the Global Compact principles could help to build a more inclusive economy and achieve sustainable development. He added that building an economy with wider linkages across the world will be an essential pillar for promoting national harmony, including in Rakhine, and Myanmar's democratization process.
Immediately thereafter, the Secretary‑General met with U Sai Mauk Kham, Vice-President of Myanmar.
Later that afternoon, after a private lunch, the Secretary‑General met with the United Nations country team. The team briefed him on the various programmes managed by the United Nations system in Myanmar. The Secretary‑General thanked the team for all of the efforts of the United Nations system to assist Myanmar in furthering its development and the democratization process.
The Secretary‑General then attended the sixth annual ASEAN-United Nations Summit, of which he is a Co-chair. He told the gathered Heads of State and Government that the United Nations is currently striving to address the multiple crises the world is facing while keeping its eyes on the longer term challenges, such as climate change. He said that he counted on the support of ASEAN members at the Conference of Parties in Lima in December 2014 and in Paris in 2015. (See Press Release SG/SM/16334.)
The Secretary‑General underscored the progress made by ASEAN nations in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. In fact, he added, ASEAN countries lead the work in Millennium Development Goal performance. He stressed that the United Nations cannot tackle these problems without the active support of regional organizations, such as ASEAN. The Secretary‑General went on to note that discrimination against minorities and violence against women remain serious challenges in the region. But he noted that the United Nations stands ready to work with ASEAN to strengthen national capacities to promote human rights.
Immediately afterwards, the Secretary‑General held a press conference. In his opening remarks, the Secretary‑General said that ASEAN countries have a central role to play in addressing the major challenges we are facing in setting the world on a more peaceful, sustainable and equitable path.
He shared with the journalists that earlier in the day he had met with senior leaders in the Myanmar Government, including the Vice‑President. He said he had commended the Government for its continued efforts to implement an ambitious reform agenda. "I encouraged the nation's leadership to take a unified and visible stance against incitement and divisiveness, and to actively promote national harmony and reconciliation," he said. Mr. Ban expressed his concern about competing territorial or maritime claims in the region, which could escalate if not managed well. He also called on all of Asia's leaders to pursue dialogue, exercise restraint, avoid provocation and resolve their disputes in a peaceful manner.
Also on Wednesday, the Secretary‑General met with Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. He also met with Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand.
That evening, the Secretary‑General, accompanied by Madam Ban, attended a gala dinner hosted by U Thein Sein, President of Myanmar.
On Thursday morning, the Secretary‑General continued with a series of bilateral meetings, starting with Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia.
Later that morning, the Secretary‑General attended the opening ceremony of the ninth East Asia Summit. He told the assembled delegates that East Asia and "indeed the world, will benefit from a future-oriented Asia that is ever more integrated - engaged - and assuming greater responsibilities commensurate with its clout". He added that the region is an engine of global growth and can also be an engine of global solidarity. (See Press Release SG/SM/16336.)
Immediately afterwards, the Secretary‑General met with Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank.
Later in the morning, the Secretary‑General met with Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. They discussed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The Secretary‑General expressed his strong concern at the current situation and its impact on the relations between Russia and Europe, as well as with the United States. He also stressed to the Prime Minister that Russia should use its considerable influence to help de-escalate the situation on the ground in the south-east part of the country and bring Ukraine back to a path of peace and stability. He reiterated his position that all parties should ensure that the Minsk Protocol be fully implemented.
In the afternoon the Secretary‑General held a series of separate meetings focused on Myanmar.
In a meeting with President Sein, the Secretary‑General commended the President's leadership in advancing the peace process between the Government and ethnic armed groups. In light of recent developments, he underlined the need for all stakeholders to take a leap of faith and move forward with mutual trust and confidence toward the signing of a nationwide ceasefire and beginning a discussion on the framework of a political dialogue. Concerning the situation in Rakhine and the continued polarization between the communities, the Secretary‑General took note of the recent steps taken by the Government in Rakhine, including the appointment of a new Chief Minister and consultations on the three-year Action Plan. At the same time, he stressed that the underlying causes had to be addressed through substantive and early action, including on the issue of citizenship.
He also met that day with the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Thura Shwe Mann, as well as with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the Union Parliament Committee for the Rule of Law and Tranquillity and Chairperson of the National League for Democracy.
The Secretary‑General's discussions with Ms. Suu Kyi touched on her role in Parliament and in the broader political and socioeconomic sphere in the country. The Secretary‑General underlined that there was great expectation that the upcoming elections in 2015 would be credible, inclusive, transparent and fair and would provide solid evidence of the consolidation of the democratic process in the country.
In his meeting with Mr. Shwe Mann, the Secretary‑General highlighted the positive role played by Myanmar's Parliament as a prominent example of change in Myanmar through its active, vigorous and decisive debates on political, developmental and social issues since the start of the reform and democratization processes.
The Secretary‑General added that the debates in Parliament on media laws, hate speech, interfaith marriage, religious conversion and other issues would help promote democracy and communal harmony. The Secretary‑General underlined that there was great expectation that the upcoming elections in 2015 would be credible, inclusive, transparent and fair and would provide solid evidence of the consolidation of the democratic process in the country.
He ended the day with a group interview with local Myanmar media.
In the evening, the Secretary‑General and his delegation departed Nay Pyi Taw for Brisbane, Australia, to attend the G20 Summit.