New UN Rights Rapporteur to Begin Burma Visit This Week

By The Irrawaddy 15 July 2014

The new UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burma, Yanghee Lee, will make her first official visit to the country from July 17-26, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights announced (OHCHR).

Lee, an “independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the situation of human rights” plans to visit the capital Naypyidaw, Rangoon, strife-torn Arakan State and restive Kachin State, as well as Mandalay, which suffered from a recent outbreak of anti-Muslim violence, OHCHR said in a statement

She will meet with government officials, political, religious and community leaders, civil society representatives, as well as victims of human rights violations and members of the international community.

“A frank and open exchange of views will be vital to help me better understand the realities on the ground,” Lee said in a statement. “And it is my intention, as special rapporteur, to work closely with the government and people of Myanmar, towards the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.”

The new rapporteur, who is independent from any government or organization and serves in an individual capacity, will submit her first report to the UN General Assembly in October.

Lee is from South Korea and currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul. She served as chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and is a founding president of International Child Rights Center.

She succeeds rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana, from Argentina, who completed his six-year term by June 2014. Quintana oversaw sweeping political reforms in Burma, but also large-scale rights violations following the outbreak of the Kachin conflict and inter-communal violence in Arakan State.

Quintana had an at times difficult relationship with the government, which outright dismissed his reports of mass rights violations and persecution against the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority in western Burma’s Arakan State.