Chair: Mr. Ashok K Kantha
For over two decades the military regime in Myanmar was the object of international isolation, sanctions and annual ‘finger pointing’ resolutions adopted against it by the United Nations General Assembly. With the launching of the new government after the 2010 elections, however, the UN ‘good offices’ has been working steadily to encourage reform, democratization and national reconciliation in the country.However, major tension points remain unaddressed in Rakhine as well as in the national reconciliation process. The discrimination and suffering of the Muslim communities in Rakhine as a result of the tension and violence in 2012 and elsewhere since then were aggravated by ‘hate speech’ and discriminatory laws against minorities and their disenfranchisement in the election. They also caused major displacements of people, migrations to neighbouring countries and regional pressures. The outburst of extremist action in October 2016 marked a new stage in this crisis but the alleged excesses by the security forces against the local minority population only caused further flights and exacerbated communal polarization within the country as well as outcries of concern abroad. The newly elected NLD government has not been able to handle this issue deal effectively thus far. Meanwhile the process of national reconciliation has progressed unevenly. Despite some advances in a nationwide ceasefire agreement, major differences persist and the momentum of the political dialogue has been unsteady. Until 2016 this process was conducted with the presence of the UN and China as ‘observers’. With the winding up of the UN good offices by end-2016, the UN is no longer in the talks. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has moved with fresh energy to encourage the peace process impressing on both government negotiators and ethnic armed groups of the larger benefits of development that could accrue to all stakeholders from initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative. While China has now assumed an important new role, it remains to be seen how this will work out over the medium term given the unpreparedness of the Tatmadaw as well as some ethnic armed groups to substantially modify their positions.
About The Speaker
Vijay K Nambiar joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1967. He studied Chinese in Hong Kong, and served in China from 1970-72 and returned to South Block and Udyog Bhavan until 1976. He then served as First Secretary in Tito’s Yugoslavia. He was posted from 1979 to 1982 in the Indian Mission at the United Nations (UN) in New York and served in Delhi during the 1983 NAM Summit and after. From 1985 to 1987, he was India’s Ambassador in Algeria. He returned to Delhi as Joint Secretary East Asia in the MEA in 1987 and helped prepare for Rajiv Gandhi’s historic visit to China in 1988.
Subsequently, he served as India’s Ambassador/ High Commissioner in Afghanistan (1990-1992), Malaysia (1993-1996), China (1996-2000), Pakistan (2000-2001) and Permanent Representative to the UN in New York (2002-2004). Post-retirement, he served as Deputy National Security Adviser of India (2004-2006). He was then deputed by the Government of India to serve in the United Nations Secretariat as Under Secretary-General, Special Adviser to Secretary-General Kofi Annan (2006-2007), then as Chef de Cabinet to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (2007-2012) and later as Adviser on Myanmar (2012-2016).
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