UN Burma Adviser to Brief Security Council

By Lalit K Jha 10 April 2012

WASHINGTON D.C.—Vijay Nambiar, the United Nations special adviser on Burma, is due to brief the bloc’s Security Council members on Tuesday regarding recent developments in the Southeast Asian nation and his trip there in February, an official has said.

The briefing—the first held since the recent by-elections—comes at Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to visit Burma at the end of this month. It is believed that council members are expected to discuss not only his trip, but also the political situation in the wake of the April 1 poll.

Diplomats at the UN said the majority of the 15-member Security Council seems to see the recent ballot as a major step forward and interprets democratic progress as a positive sign.

However, some countries are likely to be concerned with the next steps forward, including the release of the remaining political prisoners as well as the national reconciliation process.

There may also be some interest in hearing more about talks between the Burmese government and the Karen National Union in order to achieve a ceasefire and peace agreement, officials said.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that no decision has been made on who will become the new ambassador to Burma. Highly placed sources, however, believe that current US Special Envoy to Burma Derek Mitchell is expected to be nominated for the role. Any announcement in this regard would be made by the White House.

The Asia Society Vice-President of Global Policy Programs, Suzane DiMaggio, said Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party winning 43 seats in the 664-member national legislature of Burma has raised expectations among its people for more reform.

“Several points of significance have emerged as a result of the elections. First, with a total of 17 political parties running candidates, the elections were an important step forward in the return of opposition politics to Burma after nearly half-a-century of military rule.

“Second, the elections have raised expectations for deeper reforms among the people of Myanmar,” she said. “Third, Suu Kyi and the NLD were especially effective at mobilizing a younger generation of activists, and we should expect to see the growing participation of Myanmar’s youth in the political process.

“Fourth, the election results have heightened expectations that relations between Myanmar and the United States will continue to improve at an accelerated rate.”

The Asia Society official welcomed the recent announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to relax some of the sanctions against Burma, including the easing of some travel and financial restrictions, the establishment of a United States Agency for International Development office in the country, support for the full return of the United Nations Development Program, and the appointment of an ambassador to Burma after a two decades absence, among others.

“These measures demonstrate an important first step toward ensuring that US sanctions are not working at cross-purposes with reform efforts,” she wrote.