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Noeleen Heyzer, the U.N. special envoy for conflict-torn Burma, will be leaving the job in June, the United Nations announced Wednesday.
She took on the job in October 2021 following the military coup in February of that year that ousted the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and has led to widespread armed resistance.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Heyzer, a former U.N. undersecretary-general, will leave on June 12 at the end of her contract. Her nearly 20 months in the post is less than half the time of her predecessor, Christine Schraner Burgener.
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On her first trip to Burma last August, Heyzer met the head of the military-installed government, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, and called on him to urgently halt all violence, support a political path back to civilian rule and democracy, and allow the imprisoned Suu Kyi to return home and to meet with her.
Noeleen Heyzer (left) will be resigning from her position as Burma’s U.N. special envoy next month. (Pang Xinglei/Xinhua via AP)
But the military took no action, and in a grim assessment Heyzer told the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on March 16 that the impact of the military takeover has been “devastating,” with violence continuing “at an alarming scale.”
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Widespread popular resistance to brutal repression by the military shows no sign of abating across much of the country, Heyzer said, and with both sides intent on winning by force “there is no prospect for a negotiated settlement.”
Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is thankful to Heyzer “for her tireless efforts on behalf of peace and the people of [Burma].” He said the secretary-general will appoint a new special envoy.
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Heyzer, a Singaporean, served from 1994 to 2007 as executive director of UNIFEM, one of the forerunners of the umbrella U.N. organization for women known as UN Women. She was the first woman to serve as executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, from 2007 to 2014, a post that gave her the rank of an undersecretary-general.