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Special Envoy Myanmar

Established: April 2018

With the coming into effect of the 2008 constitution, and the opening by the country of its doors to democratic reforms, the role of the Secretary-General’s good offices began to evolve from its earlier one of critiquing the unrepresentative military regime into one of engagement, encouragement and support for reform, reconciliation and democratization. Even though the democratization process remains a work-in-progress, much credit is due to the people of Myanmar for their achievements thus far and to the administration of President Thein Sein, who ushered in the reform process with the election of a civilian government after the 2010 general election.


The landmark elections of November 2015 transformed Myanmar's political landscape by bringing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy Party into power. As the new government assumed power in April 2016, the country embarked on a process of national reconstruction as well as a revived national political dialogue process with various ethnic armed groups and others to unify the country, it faces major challenges in confronting entrenched attitudes, especially in Rakhine state. The exodus of some 700,000 refugees fleeing Rakhine State from violence in that region since August 2017 accentuated the urgency for holistic solutions to address the complex root causes. Following the 8 November 2020 general election, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) secured a stronger mandate than the landmark 2015 polls, domestic military-civilian tensions intensified, as the Commander-in-Chief made strong public criticism about Government and electoral preparations, ultimately leading to an unconstitutional military takeover on 1 February 2021. Violence has escalated across the country since the takeover as security forces carry out brutal repression and People’s Defense Forces have formed and taken up arms against the  military. The United Nations has been faced with increased restrictions hampering life-saving aid from reaching vulnerable communities, notably those in conflict-affected areas. Since February 2021, efforts to promote an inclusive response to the COVID-19 pandemic and amplify the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire with a collective new push for peace and reconciliation in Myanmar have been severely undermined.


The spread of violence has increased displacement in a country already grappling with a significant population of internally displaced persons. At the same time, the country’s health infrastructure has come to a near standstill. The compounding effects of COVID-19 and the takeover have paralysed the economy and led to millions of children and young people missing school. A unified international and regional response is needed to help to put Myanmar back on the path to democratic reform. Such an effort must be accompanied by the immediate release of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other government officials, as well as by immediate humanitarian access and assistance, especially to vulnerable communities, among them the Rohingya Muslims, many of whom are living in exile in Bangladesh and elsewhere.


The Secretary-General has repeatedly underlined his call to address the underlying issues and for an end to violence, unfettered humanitarian access to all areas in Myanmar, including in Rakhine State, the creation of conducive environment for safe, dignified and voluntary returns and the implementation of the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission, particularly on the protection of human rights, closure of IDP camps, freedom of movement, access to services and justice, and to the question of citizenship. It is widely recognized that the momentous political and socio-economic changes taking place in the country can be consolidated only if it is based on the foundations of inclusiveness, tolerance and respect of human rights for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or gender, where no one is marginalized, discriminated against or left behind.

Ms. Christine Schraner-Burgener served as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar from April 2018 through October 2021. The Secretary-General has appointed Ms. Noeleen Heyzer as his new Special Envoy on Myanmar and she will begin her duties on 13 December 2021. 



Special Envoy: Noeleen Heyzer


National staff: 1

International staff: 4

Total: 5