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Minister of State Ciarán Cannon at the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Diplomatic Relations, Human Rights, Irish Aid, MoS Cannon, Press Releases, Global, 2017


Minister of State Ciarán Cannon at the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting


Minister of State for International Development and the Diaspora, Ciarán Cannon T.D., visited Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on 20-21 November to participate in the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting which was chaired by Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Sui Kyi. 


In my speech to the meeting I pointed out that people of all cultures need to feel respected and connected to their wider community. Alienation, as we in Ireland know only too well, can lead to conflict, strife and an undermining of people’s most basic human rights.”


Minister Cannon also had a separate meeting with Myanmar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, U Kyaw Tin, where he discussed Ireland’s bilateral relations with Myanmar, the democratic transition process in Myanmar, and the ongoing situation in Rakhine State. 


In my meeting with Minister U Kyaw Tin, I conveyed the Irish Government’s deep concern at the serious human rights violations committed by security forces in Northern Rakhine State, and the catastrophic humanitarian crisis which has developed as a result. I condemned the violence which has primarily been directed towards the Rohingya community, and I urged the Government of Myanmar to urgently restore full access to humanitarian aid to the area. 


It is Ireland’s belief that the full and swift implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State will be critical for the region’s long-term peace and stability and I also conveyed this to my Myanmar counterpart. I welcomed the ongoing efforts between the Governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding on the return of refugees, and indicated that the process of returning refugees to their homes should be voluntary, safe and sustainable. It is critical that the repatriation programme works to the benefit of all refugees and I urged the Minister to ensure that the conditions for those returning should enable livelihoods and support the restoration of trust within and among the communities of Rakhine State.


While in Myanmar I also met with the UN Resident Coordinator Knut Ostby, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Trócaire and Plan International, who briefed me on the important humanitarian and development work which those organisations are doing in Myanmar. I indicated that Ireland will continue to provide support for their efforts by way of funding from Irish Aid. It is clear that the situation in Myanmar remains extremely challenging.  It is also very complex, with serious issues to be resolved in other parts of Rakhine State and in other states within the country.  Fundamentally, the democratic transition process which is underway provides the best way forward for bringing peace, reconciliation, and socio-economic development to the country. Ensuring accountability for the actions of the security forces in Rakhine State and addressing the underlying root causes of the recent violence there will be a key test for the Government of this young democracy. In my meetings, I conveyed Ireland’s willingness to support the genuine efforts of the Government to address these issues as well as its long term development needs."



Press Office

22 November 2017



Notes to Editors


1. The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to foster dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe. Presently it comprises 53 partners - 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat. ASEM addresses political, economic, social, cultural, and educational issues of common interest. The ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is a biennial event which gives foreign ministers from across Europe and Asia the opportunity to meet and discuss issues of bilateral and multilateral interest. It is an important element of Ireland’s engagement with Asian partners.


2. Ireland has been active in raising our concerns regarding the situation in Rakhine State, the Rohingya people and the significant number of refugees who are now situated in Bangladesh, through national statements, with our bilateral contacts in Myanmar and via participation in the EU and UN. Ireland has consistently called for an end to the violence in Rakhine State, and for the restoration of humanitarian access and humanitarian aid to the region. Ireland has also called for an independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of human rights violations by the Myanmar security forces, and in this regard, we have supported the establishment and extension of the mandate of the UN Fact Finding Mission, and asked the Government of Myanmar to cooperate with this team. Ireland has urged the Government of Myanmar to take forward the recommendations which have been set out by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State as soon as possible. These measures provide the strongest path forward for the long-term peace and development for all communities in the region.


3. Ireland fully endorses the EU position as set out in the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s October Council Conclusions on Myanmar, and officials will continue to liaise closely with other EU partners at official level in Brussels, Yangon and in UN fora to contribute to the EU response to this issue. Ireland also supports the comments by EU High Representative Mogherini, who following a meeting with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on 20 November, issued a statement on behalf of the EU, Norway and Switzerland emphasising that the humanitarian and human rights situation in Rakhine State remains extremely serious and called on the Government to ensure accountability for those responsible for committing atrocities.


4. Irish Aid has allocated €2m in response to the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and neighbouring Bangladesh. This money is being channelled through trusted NGOs and the UN system.