The Chair of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, Kofi Annan, delivered the below speech during the Commission’s first visit to Rakhine State’s capital Sittwe to Government representatives, community leaders and civil society organisations.
My fellow Commissioners and I are very pleased to be here in Sittwe today.
We see that Myanmar continues a remarkable transition.
During the recent peace conference, the central government, the military authorities and armed groups have taken important steps to end interminable conflicts, some of which have plagued communities for generations.
The prospect of national peace is attracting foreign investment and trade, driving economic growth and the creation of new jobs and industry.
My fellow commissioners and I are honoured to contribute to this transformation and to support the national and local efforts to promote peace, reconciliation and economic development here in the Rakhine.
The Advisory Commission has been asked to provide ideas and advice to address the complex challenges that the State of Rakhine faces.
If the Rakhine is to realise its huge potential, these challenges must be tackled and resolved.
We will look at ways to increase economic growth, investment and job opportunities in the State.
We will consider how communities across the State can come together and work to improve security, basic rights and ensure a future that is free from conflict and violence.
We will explore how poverty might be better tackled for the benefit of the most vulnerable members of all communities.
And we will work closely with local authorities to examine how the institutions of the Rakhine can be strengthened to effectively address these and other challenges.
We are aware of the past efforts to address these and other issues of concern.
Our goal is to build on this work.
In doing so, we will engage with civil society organisations, women’s groups, religious and community leaders and individuals across the State
This first visit is an opportunity for us to listen and learn.
Over the next two days we will hold a series of consultations with local leaders.
Your ideas and suggestions on how this Commission can most effectively discharge its responsibilities will be invaluable, and I look forward to our exchange of views.
And I expect that these meetings will be the first of many.
Over the next 12 months, my fellow Commissioners will travel frequently across Rakhine to consult with local communities, leaders, and experts to develop the Commission’s final recommendations.
We will also release interim reports with recommendations for smaller steps that can be quickly taken to lead to tangible improvements for all communities.
As Chair of the Commission, my role will be to coordinate and guide the activities of my fellow Commissioners.
I will look at the regional dimensions of these challenges, and encourage Myanmar’s neighbours to play a constructive and positive role.
And I will share the experiences of similar efforts in other regions.
Ladies and gentlemen, experience has shown me that peaceful and prosperous societies are built on three pillars: sustainable development, peace and security, and respect for rights and the rule of law.
These pillars are interconnected and interdependent, for there can be no long-term security without development, and there can be no long-term development without security. And no society can long remain stable and prosperous without the rule of law.
I hope that by working closely together, we can strengthen each of these three pillars in Rakhine, and ensure a more secure and prosperous future for all.