We thank the UK Presidency for organizing this Open Debate on reconciliation for promoting peacebuilding and sustaining peace efforts in the larger context of international peace and security. We also thank the Secretary-General and other briefers for sharing their thoughts and valuable insights on the issue.
Reconciliation has proven to be a useful instrument for sustaining peace and preventing relapse into conflicts both in inter-State and intra-State conflict situations. The PBC has wealth of experience in this regard. In its advisory role, the PBC continues to inform the Security Council, General Assembly, and member states on how better to support reconciliation to prevent the recurrence of conflict and promote durable peace and security—domestically, regionally, and globally. We must work towards further integrating these learnings in the comprehensive approach to peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Reconciliation involves a host of issues starting from ensuring rule of law, accountability and transitional justice; promoting sustainable economic growth, national ownership, social cohesion, gender equality, down to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms including religious freedom.
As one of the major T/PCCs, Bangladesh has been supporting national and local reconciliation strategies in countries emerging from conflict. Under the astute leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we also have had successful experience of reconciliation in the Chittagong Hills Tracts which had led to the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord of 1997. This has brought sustainable peace and harmony with our ethnic minorities in our Chittagong Hill Tracts area. Drawing from these experiences, we believe reconciliation can be a critical enabler for resolving the Rohingya humanitarian crisis the brunt of which we are bearing. We are convinced that Security Council can play an important role in promoting sustainable peace in Myanmar’s Rakhine State by ensuring reconciliation and reintegration of Rohingya community with Myanmar society. This is what can pave the way for repatriation. Certainly, it would require a robust enabling environment underpinned by dialogue between the Rohingyas and for that matter other ethnic minorities, rest of Myanmar society and Myanmar authorities, and a sustainable political process. Hence, we tend to emphasize more on a comprehensive approach particularly through the prevention of violence against unarmed civilians, dehumanization narratives and addressing the root causes.
There are many successful models for achieving truth and reconciliation and transitional justice in many countries such as Rwanda, South Africa, Sierra Leone which may be followed. Reports of various UN mechanisms on Myanmar would also be useful. In addition, we wish to highlight a few points:
First, Myanmar must adopt clearly defined strategies for reconciliation so that the returning Rohingyas can have harmonious co-existence in Rakhine State. Here, the importance of appropriate confidence building measures among the parties concerned need not be overemphasized. A whole-of-society approach with opportunities for the civil society and media actors holds the key.
Second, any reconciliation process in Rakhine state must pass the rigors of transparency, objectivity, trust and confidence. As such, it is important that regional or international actors are involved in the process. The success would largely depend on the impartiality of the actors, their compliance with agreed norms, and respect for diverse opinions, and most importantly international law.
Third, the Security Council has to encourage Myanmar to address core grievances and ensure unhindered and safe passage of relevant humanitarian personnel and supplies to ensure resettlement of civilians and reduction of human sufferings.
Fourth, we have had first-hand accounts of how sexual violence had been used against Rohingya women fleeing from Myanmar. The children and young people had also borne a heavy brunt of it. Hence, promoting meaningful reconciliation and reintegration of Rohingya community would require active participation of women and young people in the process.
Fifth, ensuring accountability and justice for serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law is of paramount importance. To this effect the international community and the UN should make appropriate use of the tools at their disposal. As Secretary General said this morning, “no reconciliation without justice” will work.
I thank you.