Block Burmese JADE Act and recent policy developments
Testimony of Joseph Yun
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
June 2, 2011
Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, Mr. Berman, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the central aspects of our Burma policy, including elements of our two-track approach that comprises pressure coupled with principled engagement. In light of my recent visits to Burma in December 2010 and again two weeks ago, I would also like to provide an overview on the Administration’s efforts to promote democracy and human rights in Burma and on key recent developments in Burma including the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the 2010 elections, and the formation of a government headed by former top regime general and now President Thein Sein.
After a comprehensive policy review, which Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell outlined for your Committee in October 2009, the United States launched a dual-track Burma policy, combining pressure with direct dialogue with the regime. We are currently pursuing these parallel and complementary tracks in a full-scale effort to advance progress on core concerns of the United States and the international community, including the unconditional release of all political prisoners, respect for human rights, and an inclusive dialogue with the political opposition and ethnic groups that would lead to national reconciliation. We also urge the Government of Burma to respect its international obligations, including adherence to all UN Security Council resolutions on nonproliferation. We have made these representations repeatedly in the context of Burma’s nontransparent relationship with North Korea. Although meaningful progress remains elusive, I believe we must continue to bring the full range of diplomatic tools to bear and use both dialogue and pressure to promote positive change in Burma.
First, let me start with the pressure side of our policy. We play a leading role in the international community in shining a light on the regime's dismal human rights record and signaling to Burmese authorities that the world is watching. We support an annual resolution at the UN General Assembly on Burma that draws attention to human rights abuses and calls for cooperation with the international community to achieve concrete progress with regard to human rights, fundamental freedoms and political processes. In 2010, this resolution passed by a higher vote margin than in any previous year. More recently, in March of this year, we supported the annual resolution on Burma at the UN Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Burma, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana. We continue to call upon the Burmese government to fully cooperate with Mr. Quintana, including by allowing him to visit the country again, which authorities are refusing. Secretary of State Clinton has also expressed our commitment to pursuing accountability for human rights abuses through establishing a commission of inquiry for Burma in close consultation with our friends, allies, and partners at the United Nations.