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IBAHRI Calls on International Community to Maintain Pressure on Myanmar Following UPR

By International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute  •  November 6, 2015

Following the review of Myanmar’s human rights record by the United Nations Human Rights Council the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls on UN Member States to maintain pressure on the Government of Myanmar to ensure its human rights obligations are met. However, the IBAHRI welcomes the recognition, during Myanmar’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), of the important roles played by the administration of justice and an independent legal profession in a reform process that embraces the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, and former UN Legal Counsel, Hans Corell said: ‘The importance of the role of the international community in ensuring that human rights are realised for all people of Myanmar cannot be overstated. Although the Myanmar government has previously identified development of the rule of law as one of its key pillars of reform, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute remains seriously concerned by the ongoing impunity of military and government officials and the inability of the justice system to adequately address violations of human rights.’

The IBAHRI notes the increasing awareness by states, demonstrated at this morning’s UPR, of the essential role of an independent legal profession in promoting and protecting human rights in Myanmar. Specific recommendations, absent in the 2011 UPR, were made for: fair and impartial regulation of lawyers in line with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (Hungary); an independent Bar Council (Canada and Hungary); guarantees for lawyers and judges to ‘perform their professional functions without improper influence and to legally form and join self-governing professional associations’ (Austria); and improvement of legal education, including with regard to international human rights law and the UN human rights mechanisms (Canada). The IBAHRI calls on Myanmar to accept these recommendations and encourage a reform process that respects and protects the rights of the people under the rule of law.

Ambassador (ret) Corell added: ‘Lawyers should be at the forefront of human rights protection and promotion, but in Myanmar they are being sidelined by repressive laws and practices that entrench impunity and injustice. When making recommendations through the UPR process, it is crucial that the international community recognises the importance of an independent legal profession in protecting human rights. We urge all UN Member States to keep this in mind and to continue their efforts to encourage Myanmar’s government to transition to a state where human rights are held in high regard, but more importantly enforced.’

Notes to the Editor

(1)    To read the statement by Austria on Myanmar’s UPR, click here.

(2)    To read the statement by Canada on Myanmar’s UPR, click here.

(3)    To read the statement by Hungary on Myanmar’s UPR, click here.

(4)    As defined by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.’

(5)    In August 2012, the IBAHRI convened a high-level delegation, to undertake a fact-finding mission to Myanmar to examine the state of the rule of law and to assess the genuineness of the Myanmar authorities’ commitment to engage in serious law reform and respect for human rights. The mission report, released in December 2012, urged international organisations and foreign governments to lend crucial support to the reform process in Myanmar, but warned that any assistance must be targeted carefully so as to include all sections of the country’s population. The report The Rule of Law in Myanmar: Challenges and Prospects can be read here.

(6)    The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

The IBA’s administrative office is in London. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington, DC, US, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Programme (IBA ICC) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

(7)    Twitter handle: @IBAHRI

For further information please contact:

Romana St. Matthew – Daniel
Press OfficeInternational Bar Association
4th Floor, 10 St Bride Street,
London EC4A 4AD

Mobile: +44 (0)7940 731 915
Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7842 0094
Main Office: +44 (0)20 7842 0090
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