Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today assured South-East Asian nations of his commitment to seeking a successful transition to civilian and democratic rule in Myanmar.
“I also count on your support in encouraging Myanmar’s engagement with my good offices,” he told annual gathering at UN Headquarters of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“The UN and ASEAN share the aim of stability and development in Myanmar. We agree on the critical need for a democratic transition and national reconciliation, and for ensuring free, fair and inclusive elections.
“Failure to meet these expectations could undermine the credibility of the process – which, in turn, could reflect on ASEAN’s collective values and principles. At the same time, we must also help Myanmar, so that they can address these humanitarian and development challenges.”
Last week Mr. Ban voiced concern at the decision by Myanmar’s Election Commission to dissolve 10 political parties, including the National League for Democracy (NLD) and called on the authorities to ensure that November’s elections are fully inclusive.
In August he called on the authorities to release all remaining political prisoners so that they could fully participate in Myanmar’s political life in the polls – the country’s first in 20 years – which are due to be held on 7 November.
Apart from Myanmar, Mr. Ban addressed four other issues with the ministers, beginning with the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), noting that ASEAN members have been among the most successful in meeting the targets on poverty, child health and education, but that there are wide disparities between and within countries, with progress on child mortality being particularly slow.
Secondly, he commended ASEAN for establishing commissions on human rights and the promotion of the rights of women and children, adding that the UN stands ready to assist the association in strengthening its regional human rights mechanisms.
Thirdly, he called for more effective cooperation on peace and security by working together in concrete areas such as conflict prevention and peacekeeping. Finally he lauded the Secretariat-to-Secretariat cooperation and partnership between the two organizations, citing the joint work on humanitarian relief after Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar in 2008 as “a great success and an excellent example.”
ASEAN holds the meeting each year in conjunction with the opening of the General Assembly’s main session.