Report on Rakhine State is honest and constructive
THE Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, has released a final report that makes honest and constructive recommendations.
These include calls for a process on citizenship verification, rights and equality before the law, documentation, improving the lives of internally displaced people and more freedom of movement, which disproportionately affects the Muslim population.
The report is the result of over 150 consultations and meetings by the commission’s members since its establishment in September 2016. They travelled extensively throughout Rakhine State and held meetings both inside and outside the troubled region. They met in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, as well as in Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Geneva.
Following a request from State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Kofi Annan Foundation and her office established the commission as a national entity with a majority of Myanmar members. It was mandated to examine the complex challenges facing Rakhine and to propose responses to those challenges. Annan revealed that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi asked the commission to be bold with its recommendations.
“At the inauguration of the commission, the State Counsellor urged us to be bold in our recommendations. We have followed that advice,” he said.
Annan said his group has put forward honest and constructive recommendations that would create debate. “However, if adopted and implemented in the spirit in which they were conceived, I firmly believe that our recommendations, along with those of our interim report, can trace a path to lasting peace, development and respect for the rule of law in Rakhine State.”
In addition, the commission recommends the setting up of a national mechanism “to ensure the effective implementation of its recommendations.”
Annan proposed a ministerial-level position to coordinate policy on Rakhine and ensure the effective implementation of the recommendations. The appointee should be backed by a permanent and well staffed secretariat, which will be an integral part and support the work of the Central Committee on Implementation of Peace and Development in Rakhine State.
At the halfway point of the panel’s mandate in March, Kofi said he welcomed the initial steps by the government to implement the recommendations contained in the interim report. But the former UN chief admitted there is still a long road to travel before “we can be confident that the peace and prosperity of Rakhine State are assured.”
At the press conference, he said that the armed forces and other security services have a critical role to play in building a better future for Rakhine State. He was please, he added, that his commission was able to meet and consult with the Commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hliang and other senior officers of the Tatmadaw on several occasions.
Rakhine State faces complex political, economic and social challenges, he pointed out. They can only be surmounted through a sustained and coordinated effort by the civilian and military authorities at the Union, State and the local levels.
The international community should continue to play a strong, generous and impartial role in support of the national efforts needed to help Rakhine move forward. “There is no time to lose. The situation in Rakhine State is becoming more precarious,” he concluded.