The main criticism is the lack of top officials who understand the country. Many people see the UN fail in the way it handles humanitarian crises. UN resident coordinator for humanitarian aid Renata Lok-Dessallien is leaving. To be effective, the UN “must be sensitive to local issues and take them into account, The Irrawaddy writes.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At a time when Myanmar is going through a critical and fragile political transition, the United Nations appears irrelevant and incapable of addressing the country’s many problems.
As the country’s institutions face challenges amid humanitarian crises, the UN mission is seen as a failure. The main criticism is that capable and knowledgeable people with institutional memory are not being appointed to the country.
The widespread mistrust of the United Nations found an echo in an editorial that appeared on 16 June in The Irrawaddy, an important independent pro-democracy Myanmar publication. The article noted that two recent stories highlight the failure of the UN mission in Myanmar.
The first on 13 June read that Canadian Renata Lok-Dessallien would be leaving her post as UN resident coordinator for humanitarian aid in Myanmar.
Internal UN documents prepared for the new UN Secretary-General described the Myanmar office as “glaringly dysfunctional” with “strong tensions” between different parts of the UN system, BBC News reported earlier this week.
Reliable news sources reported that Lok-Dessallien had been criticised for not doing enough about human rights abuses in Myanmar. In fact, this is not the only issue. It is just tip of the iceberg.
In a statement released Wednesday, the UN responded to news stories about the coordinator’s removal from her post as “false and inaccurate”.
“If the UN cannot fix these existing issues and reposition itself to engage in Myanmar, there is a huge risk that it will become more and more irrelevant in the country, which needs outside assistance,” the article said.
The other UN news story relates to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Sweden where she said that a UN probe into alleged human rights abuses by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya last year would inflame ethnic tensions.
The state counselor said she would only accept recommendations from a separate commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan.
“There has been international pressure to look into abuses in Rakhine State, but why does the UN not also send a fact-finding mission to the areas of conflict in northern Myanmar? To be effective, it must be sensitive to local issues and take them into account,” the paper said.
Many people in Myanmar, although not hostile towards the Rohingya, view them as foreign to the country's history and culture, immigrants from Bangladesh. Most disagree with the United Nations on granting them citizenship.
“There are many areas the UN can help with including raising economic, social, cultural and human rights standards, as well as increasing access to health, education and political rights. Furthermore, the UN can engage in issues such as climate change, peace building and sustainable development.”
“Myanmar could be a UN success story if the organization appointed an effective coordinator – with extensive knowledge of the country; experience dealing with a powerful army, ethnic leaders, government officials and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; and an understanding of the nuanced and complex situation on the ground.”