PHR criticized today United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks to Burma’s Parliament, which urged Western nations to lift or suspend remaining sanctions against Burma.
During his remarks the Secretary General highlighted Burma’s recent elections and political changes to support his call for increased international economic engagement.
Ban did note that serious problems remain in Burma, and he spoke about the need to release all political prisoners, end attacks in Kachin State, and resettle those displaced from their homes.
PHR believes that by discarding the political leverage of sanctions, the Secretary General is erasing remaining mechanisms through which the international community can push for these and other substantial reforms.
Leaders of ethnic minority communities and women’s groups have called on the international community to exercise caution when lifting or suspending sanctions; Ban’s support for the wholesale suspension of sanctions without defined criteria for further improvement betrays these groups.
PHR calls on the international community to put the needs of civilians who are bearing the brunt of military abuses ahead of business opportunities in the country.
The European Union has announced a suspension of sanctions, keeping only a ban on arms sale to the country. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also seemed willing to suspend some sanctions against Burma, noting in an April 4 announcement that there may be some easing of the US investment ban.
Recently, PHR joined eight partner organizations in calling on the Administration to ensure that any shift in US policy toward Burma reflects true human rights progress in Burma.