Myanmar MPs Participate in Learning Series on Human Rights

Jul 18, 2017

A session on human rights underway in Nay Pyi Taw.

Democratic societies are built on human rights and the Rule of Law and Members of Parliament have a vital role in making sure that these rights are both protected and promoted.

Earlier this month in Nay Pyi Taw, the Parliament of Myanmar (Hluttaw) and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organized a series of activities on the role of Parliament to promote and protect human rights. These awareness-raising activities, held as part of the Hluttaw Learning Centre’s professional development programme for MPs, were delivered to over 300 MPs and formed the first step of engagement with MPs around human rights issues. The activities, which included a seminar, a master class and a round table discussion, helped familiarize MPs with key human rights principles, international agreements and national legislation and mechanisms.

The Deputy Speaker of the Amyotha Hluttaw, H.E U Aye Thar Aung, opened the seminar on July 5 and highlighted that “MPs are the ones who have to serve the people, [and] are responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights”. He shared his personal experiences as a political prisoner, and reflected on the impact of a lack of protection for human rights. He stated that human rights issues are important for national reconciliation, adding that “we have to ensure that all the ethnic groups will be respected with equal rights which is related to the amendment of the constitution”.  

Presenters at the seminar included former MPs from Australia and the Philippines, an expert from UNDP, and  Myanmar National Human Rights Commissioners. Presenters demonstrated through experience the key role that MPs have in ensuring that the promotion and protection of fundamental freedoms are reflected in legislation and spending in the national budget; and that the human rights commitments of the government are upheld through their oversight function.

The seminar was followed by other activities to support MPs’ engagement on human rights issues. On 6 July, MPs met in the Learning Centre for further discussions with the MPs from Australia and Philippines; on 7 July, a small group master class focused on developing the skills of MPs to support government reporting on key international conventions; and on 13 July a round table discussion was held on parliamentary committees and human rights. These activities have helped increase understanding of human rights issues among MPs, and supported ongoing engagement with MPs around addressing human rights issues through their duties.