Knut Ostby, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i, Remarks at the Development Effectiveness Roundtable in Nay Pyi Taw

Mingalabar. I’m speaking on behalf of the Cooperation Partners Group or CPG. We welcome today’s Roundtable as an opportunity for an interactive dialogue about sustainable development of Myanmar.

Congratulations to the Government for convening this meeting and for the initiative on the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan and its alignment with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the SDGs. We look forward to supporting its implementation.

We welcome this consultation process and, in particular, the presence of representatives from States and Regions which demonstrates a broad consultative process and support for the Plan and policies.

Development Assistance Policy (DAP)

We also welcome the consultation process on the Development Assistance Policy. We hope that we will end up with clear, streamlined, and predictable procedures and workable thresholds that give the flexibility needed to respond to existing implementation constraints so that we can deliver more efficient and effective support. It is often administrative barriers, such as approvals for visas and Memoranda of Understanding, that have a disproportionately large effect on our work. 

We welcome the recognition of the important role of local and international civil society. In this regard, I share the concerns on the INGO Law expressed by the Ambassador of Germany in her remarks.

Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP)

We welcome the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan and applaud the grounding in international and regional commitments including the SDGs and human rights.

We welcome the ambition in terms of the number of actions but understand this needs to be matched with implementation capacity and thus streamlining and sequencing may be necessary. 

We are pleased to see the intention to increase climate resilience and lay the ground for environmentally sustainable growth, including scaling up the use of renewable energy resources.

We recognise that both natural and human-made disasters can pose a significant challenge to development and therefore it is very heartening to see several references to disaster risk reduction. We would encourage that these be broadened to include resilience in the private sector and that they are more explicitly linked to the Myanmar Action Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction.

We are keen to see alignment with existing sector plans as well as linkages across sectors. We believe the upcoming consultation with Line Ministries will be important to ensure against overlap in implementing and monitoring functions and to clearly designate lead agencies. 

We welcome commitments to promote justice and the rule of law, including strengthening the independence of the judiciary. We agree that improving vetting of draft laws and overall capacity to draft legislation is key. We also believe it is important to review and amend current legislation, including the penal code, where it is vague and unclear or gives too much discretion to the executive.  Tackling corruption in the justice system and the judiciary remains a priority concern.

We would urge deeper and more meaningful integration of gender equality and women’s rights into the Plan, as well as a stronger focus on human rights, democratisation, education, labour market issues, human-made disasters and, last but not least, the critical role of local and international civil society.

We are glad to see the importance ascribed to the peace process. Cooperation Partners are willing to provide support on this complex issue which is key for the sustainable development of the country. We note that care may be needed on some issues mentioned in the Plan which are actually already agreed in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and interim arrangements. The Plan’s statement that federalism should be adhered to “within the scope of the existing Constitution” seems to contradict the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement for example. We welcome the focus on promoting increased economic activity in conflict-affected communities, where this is managed with the “do no harm” principle in mind.

We note the emphasis on leveraging different sources of funding including the private sector. We would just urge that this is accompanied by proper regulation and oversight.

The Plan puts an admirable stress on transparency and accountability, strengthening public consultations on policy making, and improving access to information.

Overall, Cooperation Partners are compiling detailed comments to share during the formal consultation process and look forward to hearing more on time frames, prioritisation, funding, monitoring, and involvement of Parliament. One option would be to align the Plan to the 2030 SDG timeframe.

It will understandable if the consultation process cannot be completed by Thingyan given how vital a wide and deep consultation is for the Plan. We urge inclusion of local and international civil society in these consultations. 

Finally, and above all, we look forward to working closely with you to implement the Plan.


Rakhine State

Let me please make a few comments on Rakhine State. We have advocated for three points of the UN Secretary-General:

·              to ensure safety and security for all communities;

·              to provide a meaningful access for humanitarian agencies, Cooperation Partners, local and international NGOs, and the media; and

·              to make sure the return of refugees is voluntary, safe, dignified, sustainable and to their places of origin.

In line with the Arrangement between Myanmar and Bangladesh and the statements by the Secretary-General, we also encourage the Government to engage UNHCR and other UN agencies in repatriation.

We note that the MSDP makes reference to the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. This Commission called for an economically prosperous, safe and secure Rakhine State, where all communities enjoy human rights and freedoms. The Commission requested the Government to declare its readiness to aid all people, irrespective of ethnicity, religion and citizenship status - on the basis of fairness and equity. As you know we have advocated for full implementation of the Commission’s recommendations and hence we are pleased to see the reference in the Plan.

The international community in Myanmar remains prepared to provide necessary assistance towards implementing long-term solutions to the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State. The UN signed last week in Nay Pyi Taw agreements with Japan totalling $20 million for projects designed to reach with humanitarian and development aid half a million people of all communities in Rakhine State.

We hope to work with you on achieving your vision of a poverty-free, prosperous and democratic Myanmar, with a focus on human rights and rule of law and peace for everyone. Chay Zu Tin Bah Deh.