UK must take lead to secure UN Commission of Inquiry on Burma, says TUC
The TUC is today calling on the UK Government to take the lead in securing consensus for a UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity by the regime in Burma. The EU is currently drafting the UN General Assembly resolution on Burma which is an excellent opportunity to include the establishment of such an Inquiry.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber wrote to Foreign Secretary William Hague below calling on him to, 'personally take proactive steps to secure agreement across Europe'.
2 August 2011
Rt Hon William Hague MP
UN Commission of Inquiry on Burma
I am writing to ask the UK Government to take an active role to ensure that the European Union includes establishing a Commission of Inquiry into the draft UN General Assembly resolution on Burma.
I understand that the UK supports such an Inquiry in principle. Given the reluctance of some other EU member states, it would be great if you could personally take proactive steps to secure agreement across Europe.
You will be well aware of the arguments in favour of a UN Commission of Inquiry.
Since 1992 the UN General Assembly has been calling on the dictatorship to respect international law. UN General Assembly resolutions on Burma have described at least 15 different human rights abuses which could be classified as possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Burma has called for an Inquiry into these abuses, but so far no action has been taken to establish one. This is just one of 40 visits to Burma by UN Envoys and Human Rights Rapporteurs, whose calls for change and an end to human rights abuses have also been flouted.
In February 2011, the government of Burma also rejected 16 separate requests for investigations into human rights abuses made by the UN Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review.
It is not credible for the UN General Assembly to continue to condemn human rights abuses, and continue to call for inquiries (it has now done so 18 times), knowing full well that the resolution will be ignored. Instead, a UN Commission of Inquiry would thoroughly investigate the regime's war crimes and crimes against humanity, and develop a road map to prevent them in future.
Further, following the deeply flawed national elections of 2010, human rights violations in Burma have only worsened. Attacks against ethnic minorities have escalated, which have included extra judicial killing, torture and rape, in addition to forced labour, including forced portering. The international community needs to step up the pressure on the regime.
The TUC is joining the ITUC and international civil society groups from across the globe in calling for a Commission of Inquiry. European members of the ETUC and ITUC are taking this up with their governments, and the ETUC will also take this up with Vice President Ashton. We would be pleased to coordinate lobbying efforts with the Foreign Office in this regard.
Please do all that you can to ensure the European Union includes establishing a Commission of Inquiry into the draft General Assembly resolution on Burma.
I look forward to your response.
Issued: 2 August, 2011