Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

230316 - Briefing of the General Assembly by the Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Myanmar


16 March 2023

Statement by H.E. The Hon Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Australian Mission to the United Nations

Thank you Madam President, and thank you Special Envoy Heyzer for your update on the desperate situation in Myanmar. Australia commends your efforts to facilitate the broad dialogue crucial for the future of the people of Myanmar.

We express our condolences to the thousands of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar left homeless yet again by fires in those camps earlier this month. And we commend the efforts of refugees, humanitarian partners, and Bangladesh government authorities in responding so effectively.

This destruction illustrates the precarious vulnerability forced upon large numbers of Rohingya and other displaced persons. Australia again calls on the Myanmar military regime to create conditions to allow the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of the Rohingya and other displaced persons.

Such conditions are impossible while the regime continues to consolidate its power and supress the will of the people of Myanmar. This, through indiscriminate violence against civilians and systematic human rights violations.

There is evidence that thousands of civilians, including children, have been jailed, tortured, or killed. The regime’s brutal attacks on civilian lives and infrastructure through airstrikes, artillery fire, and arson are deplorable. We again express deep concern over incidents of conflict-related sexual violence, in particular against women and girls.

We further condemn the regime’s use of widespread human rights abuses against civilians and minority groups, including the Rohingya, through suppressing political expression, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and sexual and gender-based violence. We again reiterate our deep concern over the executions of pro-democracy activists.

The Rohingya crisis and the impacts of the February 2021 coup remain inextricably linked. And it is incumbent on the international community to act.

We reiterate our support for ASEAN’s resolute efforts to support a peaceful resolution in the interests of the people of Myanmar. We call on the military regime to engage meaningfully with all stakeholders in pursuit of a resolution to the crisis and for full and swift implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.

The international community and its institutions must continue to engage with and support ASEAN in these efforts. And we encourage Special Envoy Heyzer to continue close coordination with the ASEAN Special Envoy.

UN General Assembly resolutions and the recent Security Council resolution highlight valuable international approaches that seek to improve the situation in Myanmar in a manner that complements and reinforces ASEAN leadership.

We also highlight the importance of engaging with those directly affected on the ground, such as local women’s organizations. The international community should listen closely to their asks.

Australia continues to stand with the people of Myanmar, and their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic, and inclusive nation.