Myanmar/Burma fact-finding mission, 2012

Following  decades of  alleged human rights abuses,  violations of international humanitarian law, and of civil and political rights, in 2012 the newly elected civilian government, headed by President Thein Sein, took some significant political and economic steps forward, widely interpreted as a democratisation process.

In August 2012, the IBAHRI convened a high level delegation, including Philippe Kirsch OC QC, former President of the International Criminal Court, to undertake a fact-finding mission to Myanmar/Burma to examine the state of the rule of law and to assess the genuineness of the Myanmar/Burmese authorities’ commitment to engage in serious law reform and respect for human rights.

During the seven-day mission the IBAHRI delegation, comprising Judge Philippe Kirsch OC QC; Professor Nicholas Cowdery AM QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions of New South Wales, Australia; Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn,  Professor at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok; and Sadakat Kadri, UK Barrister (mission rapporteur), held 21 meetings with more than a hundred people, including lawyers, judicial officials, parliamentarians of the majority and the opposition, the newly established national human rights commission, and a wide range of civil society stakeholders.

The mission report, released on 17 December 2012, urged international organisations and foreign governments to lend crucial support to the reform process in Myanmar/ Burma, but warned that any assistance must be targeted carefully so as to include all sections of the country’s population. The report, entitled The Rule of Law in Myanmar: Challenges and Prospects, shows that the path ahead for Myanmar is marked with both opportunities and challenges. The delegation found the country’s laws and the 2008 Constitution formally guarantee a number of important rights, but national institutions frequently lack the capacity to put them into effect. The success of future reforms will therefore require the creation of transparent bodies and processes that practically safeguard fundamental rights for all the people of Myanmar – regardless of gender, ethnicity and other irrelevant factors – by providing them with an effective remedy for violations. The Rule of Law in Myanmar makes recommendations to the government of Myanmar, the national parliament, appropriate judicial authorities, civil society organisations and other concerned institutions. Read more

The Rule of Law in Myanmar will be launched at a high level panel discussion on 17 January 2013 at the Law Society of England and Wales. Read more

Media coverage:

BBC World Service (Myanmar/Burmese language)

The Irrawaddy