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GHANA HOSTS HIGH LEVEL AFRICAN ROUNDTABLE ON SDGs IMPLEMENTATION

A High Level African Roundtable Conference on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has begun in Accra.

The two-day meeting is taking place under the auspices of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s President and Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group on SDGs Advocates.

The theme for the meeting is “Mobilising Support for and Accelerating the Implementation of the SDGs”.

Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the meeting in Accra, yesterday, President Akufo-Addo buttressed home the fact that Africa’s arduous search to transform its economies and pull the masses of its people out of poverty and deprivation was dependent on how Africa urgently pursued the SDGs.

President Akufo-Addo said the continent was behind time and could not afford the luxury of dealing with the pressing challenge of poverty, climate change, youth unemployment and the myriad of other problems that confronted the continent.

He said Africa should pursue implementation of the SDGs with a strong sense of urgency and an unparalleled commitment if the continent would succeed in the ambition to transform itself and pull the masses out of poverty and deprivation.

He admitted that the challenge in achieving the SDGs was a daunting one but was optimistic that backed by knowledge, the talent and resources, Africa could transit from poverty to prosperity.

President Akufo-Addo noted, however, that the said transformation would not become possible without a selfless leadership with progressive policies as well as innovative and smart strategic partnership approaches to financing the continent’s development agenda.

“It will take fully unleashing the potentials of the domestic private sector. It will take fully leveraging innovation and making the currency of our development and most importantly, it will take empowerment of Africa’s women,” the President indicated.

The President noted that the roundtable was taking place at a time of another great hope and great expectations for the Africa continent.

He said democracy continued to gain deep roots while some of the economies of the continent continued to record robust and sustained growth.

Furthermore, President Akufo-Addo said, Africa continued to be blessed with dynamic and youthful population, some of whom were anchored in technology and innovation and that whether in the arts, sports, academia, business or international relations, Africa was regaining her self-confidence on the international stage.

Yet, he said, there was an inherent paradox of pressing demands to address widespread unemployment, especially among the youth; enhance livelihood incomes and opportunities; intensify and deepen social service delivery; and to deal with the sense of hopelessness in the future that compelled large numbers of Africa’s youth to travel across the Sahara desert and traverse perilous oceans in search of what, in most cases, proved to be an elusive better life in the developed world.

“As we endeavor to address these challenges and the huge expectations that the citizens have, we have great prospects in using the SDGs to open up opportunities for all citizens and do so in a way that leaves no one behind,” he added.

He said as Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates, he had a higher responsibility, together with his Norwegian colleague, to promote the engagement of stakeholders in the implementation and financing of the SDGs and to encourage partnerships with governments, civil society and the private sector to drive the accelerated implementation of the SDGs.

“This is the spirit that has shaped the Africa roundtable and I strongly hope that this spirit will become enduring. We have an exceptional opportunity going forward in translating the extraordinary goals enshrined in the SDGs to end poverty, protect the planet and secure prosperity,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo stressed the need to see the SDGs truly as investment in the people to build a better life, adding that no group of persons had more to gain from the successful implementation of the SDGs than the African people.

He said it would take bold ambition in thought and actions, creativity, innovation, hard work and, most critically, connecting to the positive and abundant energies of the youth to achieving the SDGs.

He was convinced that the story of Africa’s inability to develop was primarily the story of bad governance and the damaging colonial heritage.

“We must make governance and our governance systems work for the eradication of poverty and the creation of prosperity and wealth. And, as we embark on this path, we must commit to building accountable and transparent institutions,” he added.

The President continued, “We cannot grow out of poverty and achieve the SDGs through charity and the benevolence of others. If we are going to succeed to move Africa Beyond Aid, this cannot be a mere slogan. It will take doing business differently, and making the tough choices necessary to accelerate inclusive growth in the economy.” 

President Akufo-Addo said the private sector was a key accelerator to achieving the goals, and urged African leaders to do everything within their power to dismantle the labyrinth of constraints that impeded the private sector and regional trade and integration. 

He said it would require a winning mentality and commitment to doing business differently to achieve Africa’s share of prosperity and bring greater dignity to the lives of the people.

In his remarks, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said the African continent had two major assets which it could take advantage of to better the lives of its people.

“We have a human resource of 1.2 billion of which 60 per cent are the youth, and 60 per cent of arable land in the world with sufficient water, natural and ocean resources,” he said.

He expressed concern over political conflicts, civil strife and terrorism on the continent, the prevailing social challenges such as increasing unemployment, diseases and other scourges affecting the people, particularly women and children.

The AU chairperson further raised concern about the migration of Africans from the continent and called for the root causes of the menace to be dealt with.

Explaining the creative role the private sector could play as the engine of growth and job creation, he said the AU had intensified its action to fight corruption in order to boost rapid socio-economic progress of the continent.

Mr Mahamat added that the AU, in conformity with its 2063 agenda, had embarked on transformation processes with a focus on various regional blocs as pillars of integration to foster financial and economic transformation.

In a statement, Rwandan president, Mr Paul Kagame, underscored the importance of the need for Africa to take advantage of the SDGs to transform the lives of the people.

Mr Kagame also urged African nations to place stronger emphasis on the private sector as an engine for the elimination of poverty, growth and wealth creation.

He said the SDGs could not be achieved by governments alone, hence the need for a partnership between the public and the private sectors to raise critical investments for the attainment of the 17 SDGs.

In a video message, the Prime Minister of Norway, Ms Erna Solberg, commended President Akufo-Addo for initiating the meeting which she described as “by far the most ambitious.”

Ms Solberg pointed out that the SDGs in themselves were not enough and called for concrete actions and implementation steps to be taken to achieve them.

Also present at the meeting were Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute at Columbus University; Leymah Gbowee, Director, Gbowee Peace Foundation; and Alaa Murabit, Voice of Libyan Women.

Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)

UN launches initiative to improve climate resilience of women in the Sahel


Paris, 12 December 2017
– 
A new United Nations initiative, aimed at building the resilience of a million women and youth in the Sahel to climate impacts through smart agriculture, was launched today at the One Planet Summit. The launch coincides with a gathering of world leaders in the French capital to mark the anniversary of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The climate smart agriculture programme will leverage information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide access to agriculture assets. Using a digital platform, known as “Buy-From-Farmers” or AgriFed, small-scale women and youth farmers will be connected to customers, suppliers, information, markets and finance to help build their economic identity and make them valued entrepreneurs, able to end food insecurity in the Sahel.

The initiative is a programme of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) and the G5 Secretariat. The participating UN agencies are the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the UN’s children’s organization UNICEF, UN Women, the World Food Programme, the International Organization for Migration, the UN Population Fund, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the UN Development Programme, under the umbrella of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS).

The G5 Sahel, the institutional framework for development coordination among the five countries in the region—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger—has identified combatting climate change and environmental degradation, along with their effects on rural populations, as a priority. At the national level, governments are working on adaptation strategies; the new initiative is designed to support those efforts.

UN Women presented the programme, which is among some 12 showcased at today’s Summit, on behalf of the UN system.

Women make up more than 40 percent of the agricultural labour force in the Sahel and play a critical role in enhancing food security and nutrition. In most places with high prevalence of undernourishment, women farmers have significantly less access to land, information, finance and agricultural inputs. This makes them more vulnerable to climate shocks, and affects their health and the food security and nutrition of the entire household. Lack of employment, on the other hand, puts youth at risk of terrorist recruitment.

The One Planet Summit, co-hosted by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, is aimed at supporting the formal UN process on climate action as nations look to raise climate ambition in the run up to 2020.

The Summit aims to showcase and launch innovative projects and initiatives that boost financial flows to support developing countries’ national climate action plans in areas ranging from agriculture to renewable energy.

It also looks at measures needed to reform, redirect and reset the global financial system so that eventually trillions of dollars of finance flows into climate action under the Paris Agreement and the wider Sustainable Development Goals.

Background on the new programme to boost resilience of women and youth in the Sahel

The joint UN initiative responds to 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and has the potential to economically empower at least one million people, mostly women, youth and marginalized groups in the Sahel, doubling their income in three years.

Building upon climate-smart programmes currently being implemented by the UN agencies participating in the joint initiative, it will contribute to the three pillars of climate-smart agriculture. These include: increasing productivity and incomes without damaging the environment; enhancing adaptation by strengthening local communities’ resilience and capacities; and mitigation, by reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions through responsible farming, soil management and afforestation.

Lift in global economy prompts opportunities to tackle deep-rooted development issues – UN

11 December 2017 &#150 A three per cent upturn in the global economy has paved the way to readjust policy towards longer-term issues, such as addressing climate change, tackling existing inequalities and removing institutional obstacles to development, according to a new United Nations report on global economic prospects.

Launched in New York on Monday, among other things, the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP ) 2018 offers policy imperatives that include tackling inequality and delinking economic growth from environmental degradation.

“The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018 demonstrates that current macroeconomic conditions offer policy-makers greater scope to address some of the deep-rooted issues that continue to hamper progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” stated UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the Foreword.

According to the report, 2017 global economic growth had reached three per cent – its highest since 2011 – as crisis-related fragilities and the adverse effects of other recent shocks have subsided.

The improvement is widespread. Roughly two-thirds of the world’s countries have experienced stronger growth in 2017 than in the previous year, and movement is expected to remain steady at three per cent in 2018 and 2019.

Noting that the recent pickup in global growth stems predominantly from firmer growth in several developed economies, the report states that East and South Asia remain the world most dynamic regions.

Despite the improved short-term outlook, the global economy continues to face longer-term challenges, including trade policy changes and rising geopolitical tensions.

The report highlighted that the improved macroeconomic situation has opened a door for reorienting policies, including to increase economic diversification; reduce inequality; support long-term investment; and tackle institutional deficiencies. It noted that addressing these challenges can generate stronger investment and productivity, higher job creation and more sustainable medium-term economic growth.

Uneven Growth

However, the recent economic improvements have been unevenly distributed across countries and regions.

Through 2019, negligible per capita income growth is expected in several parts of Africa, Western Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean – underscoring the urgent need to foster an environment that will both accelerate medium-term growth prospects and tackle poverty through policies that address income and opportunity inequalities.

The report also found that – hindered by institutional deficiencies, inadequate basic infrastructure and greater exposure levels to natural disasters, along with challenges to security and political instability – very few least developed countries (LDCs ) are expected to reach the Sustainable Development Goal target for GDP growth of “at least 7 per cent” (SDG 8.1) in the near term.

In addition to mobilizing financial resources to meet LDC investment needs, policies must also focus on conflict prevention and removing barriers that continue to hinder more rapid progress.

After remaining flat for three consecutive years, preliminary estimates suggest that 2017 global energy-related CO2 emissions increased, according to WESP.

“While the upturn in global growth is a welcome sign of a healthier economy, it is important to remember that this may come at an environmental cost,” said Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin.

As the frequency of weather-related shocks continues to rise, the urgent need to build resilience against climate change and prioritize environmental protection is becoming more prevalent.

International shipping and aviation emission polices, which do not fall under the purview of the Paris Agreement, must be strengthened as their emissions continue to grow faster than those from road transport.

“This calls for stronger efforts to delink economic growth and environmental degradation – as also emphasized by the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn last month,” stressed Mr. Liu.

'Genocide should not be part of our present or our future,' UN adviser says on day to honour victims

9 December 2017 &#150 The United Nations office that coordinates efforts on genocide prevention has launched an appeal for Member States to ratify the 1948 genocide convention by the end of 2018 if they haven&#39t done so.

&#8220Genocide does not happen by accident; it is deliberate, with warning signs and precursors,&#8221 UN Secretary-General António Guterres said Saturday in his message for the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

&#8220Often it is the culmination of years of exclusion, denial of human rights and other wrongs. Since genocide can take place in times of war and in times of peace, we must be ever-vigilant,&#8221 he added.

The International Day, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 2015, has since been observed annually on 9 December, the day when back in 1948 the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted.

To date, a total of 149 States, including one non-UN Member State, have ratified the treaty. With 2018 being the 70th anniversary year of the Convention, the appeal invites the remaining 45 States to ratify the Convention by the end of next year.

We are still reacting rather than preventing, and acting only when it is often too late. We must do more to respond early and keep violence from escalating.UN Secretary-General

The Convention defines genocide as &#8220acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,&#8221 including killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Despite the clear definition of genocide in the Convention, as well as improved understanding of the risks, genocide has recurred, multiple times, Mr. Guterres said.

&#8220We are still reacting rather than preventing, and acting only when it is often too late. We must do more to respond early and keep violence from escalating. This is the obligation of the State parties to the Convention, one and all,&#8221 the UN chief stated, calling upon all States to ratify the Genocide Convention by its 70th anniversary in 2018 and, in so doing, help liberate humanity from this cruel and odious crime.

In New York on Friday, the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect held an event on the eve of the sixty-ninth anniversary of the Genocide Convention.

&#8220Genocide should not be part of our present or our future. It is not an accident, nor is it inevitable. It is our inaction, or our ineffectiveness in addressing the warning signs, that allows it to become a reality,&#8221 Adama Dieng, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, said in his keynote speech to the event, which was held at UN Headquarters.

&#8220A reality where people are dehumanized and persecuted for who they are, or who they represent. A reality of great suffering, cruelty and of inhumane acts that have at the basis unacceptable motivations &#8211 the thirst for power or resources, distorted views of identity supremacy, extremist ideologies, selfish interests,&#8221 he added.

The crime of genocide did not start with the Genocide Convention and, unfortunately, it also did not end with it, Mr. Dieng said.

&#8220Throughout history there have been many events that could have been qualified as genocide […] and even now we are confronted with some situations that, if put to the test in a court of law, could also be labelled as such,&#8221 he said, urging 20 States from Africa, 18 from Asia, and seven from the Americas to ratify the convention so that he will have &#8220good news&#8221 to report at next year’s event.

Motion for a resolution on Myanmar: the situation of the Rohingya – B8-2017-0674

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its numerous resolutions on Myanmar/Burma and the Rohingya, in particular those of 16 September 2017, 15 December 2016, 7 July 2016 and 21 May 2015 on the mass graves discovered in Thailand,

–  having regard to its reports of 13 June 2017 on statelessness in South and South East Asia and of 27 June 2016 on implementation of the 2010 recommendations of Parliament on social and environmental standards, human rights and corporate responsibility,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the 1966 International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

–  having regard to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol thereto,

–  having regard to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–  having regard to the New York Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons,

–  having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime,

–  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

–  having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women and peace and security,

–  having regard to the work of the United Nations on this issue, and in particular to its report entitled ‘Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar’, adopted at the 32nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness 2014-2024 of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),

–  having regard to the report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) mission to Bangladesh of 3 February 2017 on ‘Interviews with Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar since 9 October 2016’,

–  having regard to the European Union guidelines on human rights defenders, including on freedom of expression,

–  having regard to the statement by Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) at her press conference of 2 May 2017, alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar/Burma,

–  having regard to the EU-Myanmar/Burma investment protection agreement currently being negotiated,

–  having regard to the recurrent reports by NGOs on the human rights situation in Myanmar/Burma, and in particular on the Rohingya,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the EU strategy with Myanmar/Burma of 20 June 2016,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 October 2017,

–  having regard to displacement in Bangladesh and to the statement of 19 November 2017 by the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini,

–  having regard to the communiqué of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of 5 December 2017 at the Special Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the Rohingya of Myanmar/Burma constitute the world’s largest group of stateless persons; whereas the persecution, violence and discrimination against them continue to intensify; whereas access to Rakhine State remains largely restricted for NGOs, independent observers and journalists;

B.  whereas more than 600 000 Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh since 25 August 2017, in addition to the 200 000 to 300 000 Rohingya refugees who have arrived in the country in recent decades; whereas Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world; whereas the humanitarian crisis is beginning to be exacerbated by a health crisis and a risk of disease outbreaks; whereas cases of severe acute malnutrition have been discovered; whereas Unicef, the World Health Organisation and the Bangladeshi authorities last month launched a large-scale vaccination campaign, for which 900 000 doses of vaccine have been provided;

C.  whereas Bangladesh and Myanmar/Burma signed an agreement on 23 November 2017; whereas that agreement covers the voluntary repatriation of Rohingya displaced since October 2016; whereas the arrangements and the Joint Working Group will be established within two months; whereas camps should be opened in Myanmar/Burma to receive them; whereas the armed forces of Myanmar/Burma are responsible for torture, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and indiscriminate bombing of Rohingya villages;

D.  whereas the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for an international criminal investigation into the perpetrators of violence against the Rohingya, who may potentially be guilty of genocide; whereas his analysis of ‘widespread, systematic and shockingly brutal’ attacks against the Rohingya corroborate the reports of numerous international observers;

E.  whereas the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on 12 November 2017 and announced her intention to recommend that the International Criminal Court (ICC) indict the Myanmar/Burmese authorities for numerous human rights violations equivalent to ‘acts of genocide against the Rohingya people’; whereas the Kutupalong camp alone, the largest in Cox’s Bazar, hosts more than 400 000 refugees;

F.  having regard to the fundraising conference for the Rohingya held in Geneva on 23 October 2017; whereas the European Union has made available EUR 30 million in aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis; whereas international humanitarian aid will have to be renewed from February 2018;

G.  whereas the report of 24 August 2017 by the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, commissioned by Aung San Suu Kyi, recommends that Myanmar/Burma lift restrictions on the movement and citizenship of the Rohingya to avoid fuelling extremism and to ensure peace and stability in the country;

H.  having regard to the repeated refusal to grant citizenship and related rights, such as the right to vote, to the one million Rohingya; whereas since the 1990s many Rohingya children have not received a birth certificate, and whereas this makes it difficult for them to enrol in state schools and obtain identity documents;

I.  whereas Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Myanmar/Burma is a signatory, enshrine the right to be registered immediately after birth and other obligations under applicable international instruments in this area, in particular in cases where the child would otherwise be stateless;

J.  whereas the army still wields disproportionate power over the country’s affairs; whereas certain articles of the Constitution enshrine impunity for military and civilian leaders;

K.  whereas religion is being exploited for violent purposes; whereas freedoms of thought, conscience and religion are not guaranteed; whereas incitement to hatred against religious minorities systematically goes unpunished; whereas xenophobia and Islamophobia in Burmese society have been fuelled in particular by a rise in Buddhist extremism stoking a nationalist policy which considers Buddhism to be the founding element, even an exclusive condition, of the nation;

L.  whereas communal tensions and hatred can, however, only be eliminated through legal measures; whereas their root causes also need to be tackled, including by deconstructing discriminatory stereotypes, encouraging greater tolerance and promoting access to social services for all, particularly in the area of education;

1.  Expresses its deep concern over the humanitarian situation in Myanmar/Burma and Bangladesh, and urges the Government of Myanmar/Burma to end the excessive use of force and the discrimination and violence which have devastated the Rohingya in Rakhine State; reiterates its call for full and unconditional humanitarian access without delay;

2.  Recalls that the Rohingya are an integral part of the Burmese population and that they must therefore be recognised as such by law;

3.  Notes the recent agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar/Burma; insists on the UNHCR being systematically involved in the work of the Joint Working Group; stresses that moving the Rohingya from one camp to another, on the other side of the border, cannot be a dignified or sustainable solution; supports the position of the High Commissioner for Refugees, who considers that, at present, the conditions are not in place to ‘enable safe and sustainable returns’; stresses, moreover, that such returns must be carried out on a voluntary basis; stresses the need to respect the principle of non-refoulement in all circumstances;

4.  Appreciates the constructive role played by Bangladesh under difficult circumstances; urges the authorities to provide more land to reduce overcrowding and improve the squalid conditions in the camps; urges the authorities to ease the bureaucratic restrictions they are imposing on humanitarian organisations, including in respect of work permits, visas and project approvals; encourages Bangladesh to officially recognise all Rohingya as refugees so that they can access basic protections and receive the support they need; stresses that freedom of movement is key to allowing access to basic services and education opportunities;

5.  Stresses the need to ensure the conditions for a dignified return with a view to implementing sustainable solutions in accordance with international principles, beginning with the rebuilding of villages destroyed by the Burmese armed forces; welcomes, in this regard, the decision by Myanmar/Burma to establish a ‘Union Enterprise Mechanism’ for humanitarian aid, resettlement and development in Rakhine State; stresses that this mechanism must go hand in hand with the full restoration of the rights of the Rohingya and the stopping and public condemnation of the use of excessive force by the Burmese authorities;

6.  Welcomes the fact that the UN Human Rights Council recently extended the mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission; highlights the discrimination, expulsions, abuse, mass killings and incitement to hatred against the Rohingya by the Burmese state, which in legal terms are tantamount, to a ‘crime against humanity’; supports the request by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to consider recommending to the United Nations General Assembly the creation of a new, impartial and independent mechanism to complement the work of the Fact-Finding Mission on the latest wave of violence and abuse and to facilitate individual criminal investigations into those responsible; supports, also, the establishment of an OHCHR office in Myanmar/Burma with a full mandate;

7.  Draws attention to the discrimination against other minorities in Myanmar/Burma (Tamil, Hindu, Kaman, Chinese, etc.); considers that the 1982 citizenship law provides fertile ground for division by introducing the iniquitous concept of different citizenship ‘statuses’, as well as selective application, with multiple levels of bureaucracy and endemic corruption;

8.  Stresses once again the urgent need for the Burmese Government to fundamentally overhaul the country’s discriminatory laws; urges, in this regard, the Government of Myanmar/Burma to grant full citizenship to all Burmese minorities, in particular the Rohingya, by revising the 1982 nationality law in accordance with international standards; recommends that the Government ensure that all inhabitants of Myanmar/Burma are able to obtain identity documents whatever their ethnicity, ensure that all children are registered at birth, free of charge and without discrimination, and rapidly set up a system to register unregistered children, including Rohingya children, in accordance with United Nations recommendations;

9.  Urges the Burmese authorities to implement as soon as possible all the recommendations of the advisory commission headed by Kofi Annan, in particular on the issues of citizenship and equality between Burmese citizens in law and in practice;

10.  Urges Aung San Suu Kyi to protect her people, among whom the Rohingya are an integral part, and to condemn the abuses committed by the military; notes that in her capacity as State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi has committed to bringing to justice all the perpetrators of human rights violations and other criminal acts, in accordance with the rule of law, so as to avoid any impunity, and stated on 19 September 2017 that Myanmar/Burma does not fear international scrutiny; remains deeply concerned, nevertheless, by some of her statements and by the inadequacy of her intervention, which are unworthy of a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and Sakharov Prize;

11.  Denounces the growing influence of ultranationalist Buddhist movements, which fuel discriminatory sentiment and call for the adoption of discriminatory policies and laws; recalls that the 2008 Constitution proscribes the exploitation of religion for political purposes; calls on the authorities to take the necessary measures to tackle the spread of discrimination and prejudice against Muslims and members of national, ethnic and linguistic minorities in the country and, to stop the incitement to hatred, particularly against Muslims, by publicly condemning such acts, including in Rakhine State;

12.  Stresses the need to tackle the roots of the long-standing discrimination against the Rohingya; calls for access to basic economic and social rights to be enshrined, defended and guaranteed, including improved educational opportunities and access to education, including higher education for all, particularly in Rakhine State, for displaced young people and children living in camps;

13.  Calls on the Burmese Government to give priority to preventive measures to tackle discrimination, including through education and information campaigns, the training of judges and officials responsible for maintaining order, and cultural and social dialogue;

14.  Stresses that the success of the transition to democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar/Burma depends also on guaranteeing the supremacy of civil authority over military authority;

15.  Calls on the Burmese authorities to guarantee full respect for the right to freedoms of expression, assembly, association and the media, to end arbitrary arrests and detentions and to stop imposing disproportionate sentences on those who exercise these rights, including civil society actors, politicians and journalists trying to protect the rights of minorities, who are regularly subjected to intimidation and harassment;

16.  Calls on Myanmar/Burma to ratify five of the eight key agreements already signed, in particular the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child;

17.  Calls on all the countries in the region, in particular Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, to fulfil their international obligations as regards the rights of refugees, notably by signing the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva Convention) and the 1967 Protocol thereto, and the New York Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, to open their borders to asylum-seekers, in particular the Rohingya, and to offer them at least temporary protection;

18.  Welcomes the growing attention and support of the European Union in addressing this crisis; recommends that EU support be given only to programmes which are strictly non-discriminatory and non-segregated; notes that the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Christos Stylianides, during a visit to Bangladesh last month quoted the UN Secretary-General in referring to ‘ethnic cleansing’;

19.  Welcomes the suspension of French and British military engagement with Myanmar/Burma as well as the suspension of EU invitations to the country’s Commander-in-Chief and other officials of the armed forces; stresses the importance of the EU arms embargo, which should also cover the supply of equipment, maintenance, assistance, training and cooperation with the army of Myanmar/Burma, and calls on the international community to do the same;

20.  Calls for the negotiations on an investment protection agreement between the European Union and Myanmar/Burma to remain suspended until a sustained improvement in the situation has been achieved; welcomes, in this connection, the indefinite postponement of the visit which a delegation of Parliament’s Committee on International Trade was to have made to Myanmar/Burma in September 2017; points out that access to the European Generalised System of Preferences is subject to respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights, and that, in the event of widespread and systematic violations of basic human rights or labour rights standards, it may be withdrawn; urges the Council to consider this measure;

21.  Stresses, more generally, that land issues and the unlawful appropriation of land, especially by private companies, remain a major challenge for the future of Myanmar/Burma, for social justice and for the resettlement of the Rohingya;

22.  Recalls that its report on implementation of the 2010 recommendations of Parliament on social and environmental standards, human rights and corporate responsibility found that current clauses in trade agreements had had ‘a limited impact on the fulfilment of HR obligations and commitments’, and called on the Commission and the Council, inter alia, ‘to consider the inclusion of a committee for human rights in all EU trade agreements in order to ensure serious and systematic follow-up on human rights issues in relation to the agreement’;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government of Myanmar/Burma, the ASEAN Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the General Assembly of the United Nations.