Myanmar - ReliefWeb News
Snapshot 28 October – 3 November 2015
Syria: 1 million more people are in need of humanitarian assistance than a year ago, as the total is now at 13.5 million. 6.6 million people are internally displaced, with 120,000 newly displaced in Aleppo, Hama, and Idleb governorates. Shelter, food, and WASH are reported as priority needs for the newly displaced.
CAR: After four members of the UPC political party were killed in an attack in Bangui, three other people were killed in reprisals. Communal violence escalated in the following days. The increase in violence in the country since September has affected food security.
Iraq: 26 residents of Camp Hurriya were killed as Al Mukhtar Army, an Iraqi Shia militia, launched 15 rockets on the camp near Baghdad, which houses Iranian exiles. Violence has caused over 18,000 civilian casualties in 2015, according to the UN, and displaced nearly 3.2 million. Heavy rains in late October have compounded the humanitarian situation, flooding areas of Baghdad, Anbar, Salah al Din, and Diyala.
Updated: 03/11/2015. Next update: 10/11/2015
[Nay Pyi Taw – November 2] More than 51,000 solar lamps that will light up 25,649 polling stations with no or unreliable electricity supply, were handed over to the Union Electoral Commission (UEC) in Nay Pyi Taw last week.
The purchase of the solar lamps was facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with funding support from Japan.
The Ambassador of Japan H.E. Mr. Tateshi Higuchi handed over 51,298 solar lamps to the UEC Chairman U Tin Aye last Friday. These lamps are to provide suitable lighting in the 25,649 polling stations that the UEC estimate do not have access to electricity for the upcoming elections.
“Holding a free and fair election is very important not only for the Myanmar people but also for the international community. I sincerely wish that the solar lamps provided by the Government of Japan can contribute to this goal,” said HE Mr. Higuchi.
Mr Kurbanov thanked Ambassador Higuchi for the continued support of Japan for the development of elections in Myanmar.
“After a difficult monsoon season, the need for solar lamps is even clearer. These lamps will ensure that the counting can take place as planned across Myanmar regardless of local electricity supply and weather conditions,” said UNDP Country Director Toily Kurbanov.
The solar lamps provide up to 12 hours of light, which will enable the Union Electoral Commission to meet an important goal of electoral administration – to count ballot papers swiftly and accurately at a local level. Being able to count locally, in the presence of local observers and candidate’s agents, will help build confidence in the integrity of the results as they are compiled and collated by the Commission.
UNDP supports the development of democratic governance in Myanmar. For the upcoming elections, UNDP has supported the Union Electoral Commission with the purchase of the solar lamps and indelible ink for use in the polling stations. UNDP has also conducted candidate information sessions and workshops on electoral security coordination.
Contact Information Shobhna Decloitre Communications Specialist UNDP Myanmar email@example.com
This MOP presents a detailed implementation plan to be implemented with FY 2016 funds in the Greater Mekong Subregion. This document reviews the current status of malaria control policies and interventions, describes progress to date, identifies challenges and unmet needs, and describes planned activities under PMI.
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre
MAE SOT, Thailand, Nov 3 (Reuters) - For refugees from Myanmar living in camps just across the border in Thailand, a landmark election in their homeland triggers mixed emotions - hope that a hated government will be defeated, and fear of the uncertain future such an upheaval might bring.
October 2015 – Trends
Central African Republic, Israel/Palestine, Macedonia, Republic of Congo, South China Sea, Turkey
November 2015 – Watchlist
- Conflict risk alerts
- Conflict resolution opportunities
On 15 October, the heads of eight Burmese armed groups signed a ceasefire with the Myanmar Government. Although this agreement, which was signed after more than two years of intense negotiations, is historical, it is also an admission of defeat for President U Thein Sein, who wanted a nationwide ceasefire to be agreed with all armed ethnic groups before the general elections that are scheduled for 8 November. The elections also constitute a significant event for Myanmar as they mark a key stage in its political, social, and economic transition. They are also the first elections that can be classed as transparent and inclusive since the country gained its independence in 1948.
If these two events, inextricably linked, seem set to permanently mark Myanmar’s future, they also give rise to great challenges. This edition enables us to learn more about the main issues faced by the international community involved in this context and presents some of the actions undertaken by the Swiss administration and civil society to address these challenges.
MYITKYINA, Myanmar, Oct 28 (UNHCR) – Htoi Pan vividly recalls the moment when the fighter jets streaked across the sky over her village in northern Myanmar, piercing the calm of that late June morning.
A former resident of Sumprabum in Kachin state, Htoi Pan, in her 20s, and her neighbours were aware what the sights and sounds of war meant -- their village had become the latest frontline in the country's renewed internal conflict.
"If there had been just one explosion, we wouldn't have been so shocked. It happens sometimes [when landmines go off]," she said. "But as soon as we heard a series of explosions and then the rattling of gunfire, we knew that something was wrong."
Since a 17-year-old ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Army and the Myanmar armed forces fell apart in 2011, the two sides have clashed frequently across Kachin State in the country's northeast. Among those displaced by the fighting are around 1,200 villagers whose wellbeing is of particular concern to UNHCR.
To escape the fighting, Htoi Pan*, her husband and their young children fled into the jungle with their neighbours. They returned a few days later after assurances that the fighting had stopped, only to take off again after gun battles and airstrikes resumed two weeks later.
Their flight coincided with the wet season in Myanmar. Constant downpours made it hard for Htoi Pan's young family to stay warm and dry. "We had to chop trees to make flooring to sleep on, and then put a tarpaulin on top to cover ourselves," she explained.
The young family were able to leave the area and reach the safety of a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in the Kachin capital of Myitkyina. But almost four months after the June clashes, many have been less fortunate and are now facing an increasingly desperate situation.
Unable to leave the jungle area where they have sought safety, they are in dire need of emergency shelter, food and medicine. Initial reports suggest that some 40 per cent of the trapped population are children under the age of 15.
Ma Naw *, a young man who spoke to UNHCR, described having to flee through "the jungle route" in order to avoid detection by combatants. He was the only person in his immediate family to have been able to undertake the difficult journey, which involved a long trek through the jungle as well as boat and bus rides. His parents and relatives remain in the area.
"We are extremely concerned for the civilians displaced by the fighting in Sumprabum, particularly as they include vulnerable individuals such as women, children, the elderly and those with medical conditions and disabilities. They urgently need humanitarian assistance," said Giuseppe de Vincentiis, UNHCR Representative in Myanmar.
"As sporadic clashes continue, we urge all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and renew our appeal for humanitarian access to be granted so that these displaced people can be provided with life-saving assistance and basic services," de Vincentiis added. UNHCR and fellow humanitarian organisations, both local and international, have yet to be officially given permission to access the population and deliver emergency aid.
By Kasita Rochanakorn in Myitkyina, Myanmar
*Names have been changed for protection reasons.
Nearly 714,000 people remain displaced across Regions I, II, III and the Cordillera Administrative Region, two weeks after Typhoon Koppu (known locally as Lando) made landfall in the Philippines. Around 80 per cent of those displaced are in Regions I and III where damage to houses was most severe.
According to the Government, 9,100 people (2,400 families) are in 37 evacuation centres. An additional 704,000 people (164,000 families) are staying with relatives and friends or in the open nearby their damaged homes. As of 1 Nov, there were 48 confirmed deaths, mainly from drowning and landslides. Another 83 people were injured and 4 are missing. The Philippines Humanitarian Country Team, in consultation with line departments, is planning targeted and coordinated assistance in health, agriculture and emergency shelter.
48 people dead
714,000 people displaced
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Assessment reports confirm the occurrence of frost in July and August. Coupled with the drought, the frost has impacted economic and agricultural activities, as well as access to education and health services. According to the Government, the current situation will become devastating if the drought continues for another three to four months.
Key needs include the provision of drinking water and purification tablets, as well as food. According to the Government, about 2.4 million people are affected by drought, of which 1 million people live in the most severely affected regions.
2.4 million people affected
Fighting that broke out between the Myanmar Military and Shan State Army North (SSA-N) forces in Mongshu Township, Shan State has continued, causing further displacement. According to local organisations and INGOs, up to 6,000 people remain displaced staying in monasteries and IDP camps. Assessments undertaken by INGOs and local CSOs identified immediate needs in hygiene kits, clothing, blankets, food, health, shelter and WASH. INGOs and local organisations are providing assistance to those displaced, including food, hygiene kits and other non-food items, but further assistance is needed.
6,000 people displaced
Rationing and water deliveries are underway to the worst hit parts of the Solomon Islands with predictions that below average rainfall will continue until February next year. Some schools, police stations and hospitals are already facing closure because of water shortages. Some villagers are walking 2-3 hours to get clean drinking water and work is being suspended for half-days in the worst hit areas to allow for water collection.
Nepali police have cleared protesters from the Nepal/India border crossing at Birgunj which was closed for over 40 days. This raises hopes that fuel shortages which have been hampering humanitarian relief, will ease. Nevertheless it is expected that it will take at least several weeks before the situation returns to normal. In the meantime the CERF has allocated US$1.2 million for strengthened UNHAS air lift capacity which will move much needed supplies to communities living above 1,500m before the onset of winter.
Myitkyina, Kachin State - UNFPA is conducting extensive training for civil society organizations (CSOs) and their networks to build capacity on how to interpret the census data and use it for local development and planning. Underpinning these efforts is that the success of the census is measured by how broadly and effectively the results are used for planning and programming, not just by Government but by the people of Myanmar. UNFPA and the Myanmar government are rolling out an ambitious training programme, with teams made up of both government staff and civil society representatives, who will cascade the training through States to Districts, reaching an estimated 5,460 local stakeholders across the country between October and December 2015.
In Myitkyina, Kachin State, a three day workshop at the District level took place from 12th October - 14th October 2015. The workshop was led by at a team of three facilitators; one from the immigration office at the district level, an immigration officer from the Department of Population and a facilitator from a CSO. The workshop provided a conducive atmosphere for open dialogue about the census data and initiated discussions on how census data clarified specific development issues and challenges in Kachin State.
A total of 57 participants attended the training in Myitkyina. Ma Myint Myint Toe, an English teacher at the University of Computer Studies in Myitkyina said: “The census data will help develop our Nation and can improve conditions in Kachin State, particularly in remote areas such as Putao where many children cannot attend school regularly due to poverty, a lack of transportation and accommodation for teachers.”
Increasingly through these trainings, people are beginning to understand the value of the census data and are more aware that the census was not simply a headcount of the population. Further trainings will be conducted for CSOs next years.
As Ma Thin Thin Myat, a volunteer with the Red Cross in Myitkyina said: “When delivering first aid kits we need to know the size of the population in a specific area, therefore this information will help us.” This truly illustrates the importance of Myanmar having accurate data for the first time in more than three decades. Policy, planning and services improvement in areas such as education, job creation, amenities, and health services can now be developed based on hard data which will increase the impact of programmes and ensure that resources are directed to those areas that need them most.
Date: October 2015
July 2015 Myanmar was strike by the worst flood in the past forty years, affecting twelve of the fourteen states of the country. Unusually heavy monsoon rain coupled with a cyclone led to severe flooding in Myanmar for months, displacing one million seven hundred thousand people and inundated thousands of paddy fields. Government officials in Yangon worked with local Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers to provide rice seeds to 5,106 farmers in the townships of Hmawbi and Taikyi covering 28,906 acres of rice paddies.
Rice paddies, home to Myanmar’s most crucial agriculture commodity, have been severely damaged by recent floods. Although the government has halted rice experts, rice prices continue to rise. Rice farming is predominant in the townships of Hmawbi and Takikyi, which sit 80 miles away from Yangon. More than 10,000 farmers had been out of work due to the severe flood, and most of them are poor farmers who have loaned twice for the rice seeds but all wiped out by the flood one after another.
“We inspected the fields after the water receded, then we realized that it would be helpful to have rice seeds so farmers could replant and farm. That is the way to help them,” said Daw San San Myint, Manager of Department of Agriculture in Taikyi. The Department of Agriculture provided Tzu Chi with related information so Tzu Chi volunteers could distribute rice seeds in Taikyi and Hmawbi. Tzu Chi volunteers distributed a total of 604,135 kilograms of rice seeds helping 5,106 farmers covering 28,906 acres of paddy fields from September to October.
It is not a one-time off relief distribution to Myanmar; Tzu Chi’s relief history in the country went back to 2008, the unprecedented disaster by Cyclone Nargis causing catastrophic destruction to more then 100,000 deaths in the country. Thanlyin township, a village helped by Tzu Chi since 2010 now is giving back by joining the relief mission donating rice seeds to their own people with 1,277 farmers donating 5,144 packs of rice seeds to Tzu Chi for the relief mission this year. “Thanks to the help we received then, we were able to restart our lives. Now other areas are in the same situation we were before, so we are taking this opportunity to send them our love and assistance,” said U Myint Aung, resident of Bayet Village. Tzu Chi Foundation not only helped disaster victims but also drive the virtuous circle among people helping each other in the relief mission.
On top of the relief in 2010 distribution, Tzu Chi also built three schools in Yangon and 12 small schools in the rural villages and offering scholarship assistance. Master Cheng Yen believes that education is hope for the country, and through building school we are able to groom future leaders.
Looking into the next planting season, long-term relief is on the way. As more than 70,000 ha of farmland were destroyed in the two towns, Tzu Chi Foundation has planned on the next phase to distribute 3,500 tons of rice seeds starting this December until April 2016. Working with the Burmese government, local Tzu Chi volunteers continue to do their best to help farmers replant their fields, while delivering love and care in the process.
1 November 2015 – The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed deep concern at the continuous resort to hate speech, provocation of communal hostilities and the abuse of religion for political purposes, incited by “extreme element among the majority community in Myanmar”.
“With the approaching elections on 8 November, he urges all concerned in Myanmar to eschew any kind of pressure, intimidation, dissemination of hatred or violence against individuals or organizations based on their ethnic identity, gender, religious persuasion or political views,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban's spokesperson in New York.
Mr. Ban noted the antagonism displayed in certain quarters against international organizations, including the United Nations.
“He is concerned that continued impunity for such behavior could gravely damage the international image of the country,” said the statement.
Additionally, the UN chief deplored the particularly the vulgar remarks recently directed, not for the first time, against the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Yanghee Lee, for carrying out her mandate.
“The Secretary-General has addressed a letter to President U Thein Sein expressing his full confidence in and support for the important work being done by Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee,” the statement concluded.
World: Gender equality in the 2015 Strategic Response Plan - results & evolution of the IASC Gender Marker
The purpose of this report is to capture progress and learning on how gender issues have been taken into account in the Strategic Response Plan (SRP) 2015 as well to provide an analysis on the implementation of the IASC Gender Marker and information on its future evolution. It is meant to inform sectorial programmers, clusters, cluster lead agencies, decision makers, OCHA and donors on how well current appeal processes take gender issues into account and, building on lessons learnt, how consideration for gender issues could be enhanced in future appeals. The findings are derived from reports and interviews with GenCap Advisers, who conducted a review of SRPs and of projects as part of their support to humanitarian actors. As in previous years, GenCap Advisers, either through country deployment or remote support, engaged in various ways to support the different phases of the Strategic Response Plan. Advisors also engaged at global level to ensure that guidance and processes fully integrate gender issues.
Ensuring that the humanitarian programme cycle (HPC) -a coordinated series of actions undertaken to help prepare for, manage and deliver humanitarian response - analyses and responds to the distinct needs of girls, boys, women and men is of critical importance for the provision of an assistance that is effective, equitable and that builds resilience. The HPC consists of five elements coordinated in a seamless manner, with one step logically building on the previous and leading to the next:
1-Needs assessment and analysis
2- Strategic Response Planning
3- Resource mobilization
4- Implementation and monitoring
5- Operational review and evaluation
While consideration for gender issues is key at each step of the HPC, this report focuses on the two first steps of the programme cycle, that is the development of the Humanitarian Needs Overviews (HNO), of the Strategic Response Plans (SRPs) and the design of projects, for which the application of the IASC Gender Marker is mandatory. With the transition from a Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) to a SRP, it is worth exploring whether the aims and objectives of this new approach are being better met particularly in terms of the growing emphasis on the needs of affected people and improved targeting of the most vulnerable.
“Before CARE’s training, I did not know what laws protect women and what our rights are.” In Myanmar, CARE is working with vulnerable women to help improve their livelihoods as well as increase awareness of gender-based violence. Here is Daw Khin Wyne’s story.
The first thing that catches your eye when walking into Daw Khin Wyne’s house in rural Myanmar is her collection of colourful longyi – traditional Burmese outfits. Her home doubles as her office and shopfront, where she is running a thriving dressmaking business.
“I want to expand my business and be successful so I can provide for my children,” she says proudly. However Daw Khin Wyne has not always felt so optimistic about the future.
Born into a farming family, Daw Khin Wyne’s parents could only afford to send her to school until Grade Four. Years later she took on an unpaid dressmaking apprenticeship, but was only able to do this around helping her family on the farm.
But lack of education wasn’t the only hurdle for Daw Khin Wyne. She married a man she later realised was abusive and an alcoholic. All the meagre profits she made through her fledgling business, her husband drank. He expected her to always be at home, got angry if his meals weren’t served on time or if they weren’t to his liking.
Her husband’s abusiveness extended to physical violence. He frequently threw things at her, even injuring her more than once. Daw Khin Wyne and her children were terrified of him and when he passed away six months later of a terminal illness, she admits it was almost a relief. However emotional scars of the abuse remained and Daw Khin Wyne also needed to work out how she would fend for her children as a single mother.
When Daw Khin Wyne heard about CARE’s programs providing livelihood training she was keen to take part. Not only was she able to receive small business training, but she was also able to access an interest-free loan. With this loan she purchased some fabric which she turned into ready-made fashion which could be sold at a higher profit margin.
As part of the program targeting vulnerable women, Daw Khin Wyne also received gender-based violence awareness and basic legal training. For someone like Daw Khin Wyne who had experienced domestic violence firsthand this knowledge was invaluable.
Not only did she feel more empowered to stand up for her own rights, but it means she has also been able to help other women in the same situation to seek help by referring them to the CARE-supported basic legal service.
“Before CARE’s training, I did not know what law protects women and what our rights are,” says Daw Khin Wyne. “Now, when I see someone suffering, I know how to help.”
I am delighted to share our first Impact and Learning report, Inspiring change. Since 2006 we have been pursuing a ten-year vision – to see 50 million people released from spiritual and material poverty through a network of 100,000 local churches. Over the last few years it has been incredibly encouraging to see our organisational thirst for powerful learning and robust evidence of impact continue to grow. During the year ahead we have plans to deepen our evidence base, to learn from our work and to make sure this learning is put into practice. Next year we will report in detail what we have achieved against our ten-year vision.
We are committed
Over the past ten years I have been deeply impressed by the commitment of both our staff and the local partner organisations (with which we work) to strive for the greatest effectiveness in their work and to seek continual improvement across all they do. As change accelerates and complexity increases, we know that we must become more agile and responsive, adapting to the needs and contexts in which we work. Our passion to learn and to grow is vital here.
As a faith-based organisation we are deeply committed to understanding more fully how faith in all its many aspects enables communities to thrive and to flourish. Lasting and sustainable transformation is only possible when negative behaviours, mindsets, norms and narratives are changed. Faith plays a vital role in helping people to discover hope, meaning and purpose in their lives. We are investing greater effort to support our staff and partners to distil front-line learning and marshal more evidence of how faith contributes to flourishing individuals and restored communities.
We are committed to going where the need is greatest. As we do so, we are especially keen to learn what is working well and how we can replicate, scale up and innovate from this existing work into new countries and contexts. As the international aid sector discusses future sustainable development targets, we also want to be driven by ambitious targets that will benefit the communities we work with.
We are achieving
Tearfund’s contribution to helping release people from poverty and injustice is only effective in conjunction with the professionalism, skill and energy of the front-line partners with which we work – local organisations, churches, faith networks and individuals. Their commitment and passion inspire me every day. As I hand over leadership of Tearfund later this year, I am encouraged and inspired by what we are achieving collectively through our work, as highlighted in this report. Inspiring change marks an important milestone in Tearfund’s journey. I hope you find the report as inspiring as I do. We invite you to join us on this journey of change.
Matthew Frost CEO
Tearfund – May 201
NEW YORK/GENEVA (29 October 2015) – UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, called on all those in positions of authority in Myanmar to ensure that respect for the human rights of all must be at the core of the historic elections due to take place in 10 days’ time.
“This is a watershed moment in the democratic transition of Myanmar and I urge everyone involved to ensure that respect for human rights is front and centre in the run up to the elections, during the elections and following the elections,” Ms. Lee said. “It is vital that the elections are conducted in an environment that encourages participation from all sectors of society. In the same vein, it is crucial that divisions and tensions are not manipulated for political purposes.”
The Special Rapporteur said that the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association are indispensable ahead of a democratic election and must be ensured.
“I have observed worrying trends that have been undermining the democratic space in Myanmar. The arrests, convictions and harassment of civil society and journalists should immediately cease. Independent voices are vital and must be included in public debate,” said Ms. Lee.
Ms. Lee also expressed concern about the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of individuals from across society, many of whom are from minority communities. She also expressed concern about the disqualification of many Muslim candidates from standing for election.
The UN expert highlighted the increasing influence of extreme religious nationalist movements in the political process. She also noted an apparent lack of action taken against disturbing public statements from religious leaders and members of political parties that could amount to incitement to hatred against minorities.
Speaking on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, Ms. Lee also addressed the human rights impact of the continuing conflict across parts of the country; the continuing institutionalized discrimination against the Rohingya community and the restrictions to freedom of movement in Rakhine State; as well as the prevalence of land grabbing, land confiscations and forced evictions.
“With the recent signature of the nationwide ceasefire agreement and the elections to come, the extent to which human rights are respected and protected in this critical period will greatly impact the future of Myanmar,” she added.
She expressed her dismay at the adoption of four discriminatory laws aimed at ‘protecting race and religion’, which she stressed do not conform with Myanmar’s human rights obligations.
“There is a clear need for continued legislative and constitutional reform to bring the country’s legal framework in line with international human rights laws and standards,” she said.
The UN Special Rapporteur urged the international community to remain constructively and critically engaged on human rights. “Now, more than ever, it is critical for all actors to work together to support further reforms in Myanmar,” she said.
(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s report to the General Assembly (A/70/412):
Read the Special Rapporteur’s statement to the General Assembly:
Ms. Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. Ms Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center, and serves as Vice-chair of the National Unification Advisory Council. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/MM/Pages/SRMyanmar.aspx The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx
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United Nations, United States | AFP | Thursday 10/29/2015 - 17:23 GMT
A UN rights expert warned Thursday of turmoil in Myanmar if next week's landmark elections fall short of expectations for a credible vote.
The November 8 vote is seen as the freest and fairest in decades as Myanmar moves away from military rule, but Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur for Myanmar, raised a long list of concerns.
Dozens of candidates have been disqualified, hundreds of thousands of people who had cast ballots in previous polls have been disenfranchised, freedom of assembly is being curtailed and there is widespread intimidation, said Lee.
"The period after the elections -- prior to the elections for a new president and the formation of a new government -- may see instability and tension if the election outcomes are not widely accepted as credible and legitimate," Lee told a news conference.
A South Korean university professor and rights advocate, Lee said 50 candidates were disqualified from running, many of whom are Muslims from volatile Rakhine State.
The candidates were barred from standing because they hold foreign citizenship or their parents have foreign passports, an issue that has stoked tensions in the state.
Voting will not take place in northern Shan and Kachin states bordering China due to conflict, and recent flooding has caused major logistical problems.
The rights expert pointed to the presence of international observers as key to ensuring that the elections are credible.
"All of the people of Myanmar are really excited about this. It's really a historic moment," said Lee. "But unfortunately, many will not take part in the election process."
This week, Lee presented her annual report to the UN General Assembly, which is set to once again adopt a resolution calling for more progress in Myanmar toward democratic rule.
"These are not insurmountable challenges but they cannot be swept under the rug," she said.
© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse
World: Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group to hold twenty-third session in Geneva from 2 to 13 November 2015
29 October 2015
The twenty-third session of the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group will be held in Geneva from 2 to 13 November during which the next group of 14 States are scheduled to have their human rights records examined under this mechanism.
The group of States to be reviewed by the Universal Periodic Review Working Group during this session are (in order of scheduled review): Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda, Nepal, Saint Lucia, Oman, Myanmar, Austria, Australia, Georgia, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Sao Tome and Principe. The meeting will take place in Room 20 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Representatives of the 14 countries are scheduled to come before the Working Group, which comprises the entire membership of the 47-member Human Rights Council, to present efforts they have made in fulfilling their human rights obligations and commitments, in particular since their last UPR review, assessing both positive developments and identifying challenges. The timetable of State reviews and adoption and distribution of reports can be found below, as well as at the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx
The twenty-third session is the eleventh of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group to be held during the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review process. As an integral part of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, States under Review are expected to spell out the steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed to them during their first review, in particular those which enjoyed the support of the State, as well as present developments that occurred since the previous review and share challenges in their follow-up action. The reports serving as the basis for these reviews can be found at the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/Documentation.aspx
During the session, an interactive dialogue between the country under review and the Council takes place. Each country review lasts three and one-half hours and an additional half hour will be devoted to the adoption of the Working Group's recommendations for each country. The review for each State is facilitated by groups of three Council members from different regional groups, or troikas, who act as rapporteurs. The troikas for States to be reviewed throughout the three UPR working group sessions in 2015 were selected through a drawing of lots on Monday, 13 January during an organizational meeting of the Council. The troikas for the 23rd session can be found at the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx
The final outcome of the session will be adopted by the plenary of the Council at its thirty-first regular session taking place from 29 February to 24 March 2016.
About the Universal Periodic Review
General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, which created the Human Rights Council, mandated the Council to "undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfilment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States; the review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs; such a mechanism shall complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies."
Subsequently, the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was established through the adoption by the Council of its “institution-building package” - HRC resolution 5/1 - on 18 June 2007, one year after its first meeting. Among the elements of this package was the new Universal Periodic Review mechanism, which aims to ensure that all United Nations Member States, starting with the members of the Council, have their records examined in order to improve human rights conditions worldwide. Furthermore, the Council decided that these reviews would be conducted on one working group composed of the 47 members of the Council.
The UPR Working Group consequently held its inaugural session in April 2008 for the first group of States, the order for which was decided through the drawing of lots. With the holding of this first session the first cycle took off through which all 193 United Nations Member States have had their human rights records reviewed over a four-year period (April 2008 to October 2011); this included South Sudan which became a Member State during the course of the first cycle. Thus far, all States scheduled to participate in their second cycle UPR have done so. The second cycle is scheduled to conclude in November 2016
Per Human Rights Council resolution 16/21 adopted on 25 March 2011 and decision 17/119 pertaining to the review of the Council, the second and subsequent cycles of the UPR should focus on, inter alia, the implementation of the accepted recommendations and the developments of the human rights situation in the State under review. This resolution and decision also established that the periodicity of the review for the second and subsequent cycles will be four and a half years, instead of four, and thus 42 States would be reviewed per year during three sessions of the UPR Working Group. Moreover, the order of reviews established for the first cycle was to be maintained. The calendar of State reviews for the second cycle can be found at the following link: http://www2.ohchr.org/SPdocs/UPR/UPR-FullCycleCalendar_2nd.doc
UPR Reporting and Objectives
In accordance with the Council’s “institution-building package”, and as reinforced by the outcome of the Council’s review adopted in March 2011, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document.
Per the adopted institution-building package, the objectives of the Universal Periodic Review are: the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground; fulfilment of the State's human rights obligations and commitments and assessment of positive developments and challenges faced by the State; the enhancement of the State's capacity and of technical assistance, in consultation with, and with the consent of, the State concerned; the sharing of best practice among States and other stakeholders; support for cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights; and, the encouragement of full cooperation and engagement with the Council, other human rights bodies and OHCHR.
Timetable for the Universal Periodic Review Working Group 23rd Session: (Contains links to documentation page for each State)
Monday, 2 November 09h00 – 12h30 Review of Micronesia (Federated States of) 14h30 – 18h00 Review of Lebanon
Tuesday, 3 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Mauritania 14h30 – 18h00 Review of Nauru
Wednesday, 4 November 09h00 – 12h30 Review of Rwanda 14h30 – 18h00 Review of Nepal
Thursday, 5 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Saint Lucia 14h30 – 18h00 Review of Oman
Friday, 6 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Myanmar 15h00 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Micronesia, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nauru, Rwanda and Nepal
Monday, 9 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Austria 14h30 – 18h00 Review of Australia
Tuesday, 10 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Georgia 16h30 – 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Saint Lucia, Oman and Myanmar
Wednesday, 11 November
09h00 – 12h30 Review of Saint Kitts and Nevis 14h30 – 18h00 Review of Sao Tome and Principe
Thursday, 12 November
16h30-18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Austria, Australia and Georgia
Friday, 13 November
17h00– 18h00 Adoption of recommendations on Saint Kitts and Nevis and Sao Tome and Principe
Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the Universal Periodic Review webpage on the OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx