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UN chief appoints Singaporean sociologist Noeleen Heyzer as new Myanmar special envoy

UN chief appoints Singaporean sociologist Noeleen Heyzer as new Myanmar special envoy

(Photo: Noeleen Heyzer)

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Monday (Oct 25) that he had named Singaporean sociologist Noeleen Heyzer as the new special envoy to Myanmar.

She will replace Christine Schraner Burgener of Switzerland.

Heyzer, 73, has held multiple senior positions at the United Nations, in particular between 2007 and 2014 as the head of an economic and social commission for Asia and the Pacific. Between 2013 and 2015, she served as special advisor for East Timor.

As part of her duties on the Economic and Social Commission, Heyzer worked closely with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as with Myanmar authorities on the development and reduction of poverty.

Since the Feb 1 coup in Myanmar that put an end to a 10-year democratic period, the United Nations and ASEAN have unsuccessfully urged the military junta to relaunch a political dialogue and liberate civilian officials arrested during the putsch.

Neither Burgener, who is leaving her UN duties after three-and-a-half years to enter the Swiss government, nor Brunei's deputy foreign minister Erywan Yusof - appointed ASEAN emissary in August - has been able to go to Myanmar, where they hoped to meet with civilians such as former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In a statement to CNA, Heyzer said she is deeply honoured to be appointed the UN special envoy on Myanmar.

"I will take on this role on Dec 13 and I look forward to listening to the aspirations and perspectives of all stakeholders in the hope of a peaceful political solution in the country for a better future for all the people of Myanmar," she added.

On Thursday, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said it congratulates Heyzer on her appointment. 

"Dr Heyzer has decades of wide experience and dedicated service to the United Nations. Singapore wishes Dr Heyzer all the best in her efforts to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the situation in Myanmar," an MFA spokesperson said in response to media queries. 

"Singapore also wishes to express its deep appreciation to Christine Schraner Burgener for her sterling efforts during her term as the UNSG’s Special Envoy on Myanmar since April 2018."

Source: AGENCIES/nh

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