PUTRAJAYA: The United Nations (UN) looks forward to Malaysia’s leadership in strengthening ASEAN’s human rights agenda and injecting renewed vigour into the international response to crises, including the catastrophic situation in Myanmar, as it assumes the ASEAN chairmanship next year.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said the issue was among the highlights during his meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday.

He said that three years after the military coup in Myanmar, over three million people are internally displaced, with a significant need for humanitarian assistance and people desperate for an end to the violence and mayhem.

He said Malaysia has made clear its strong opposition to the military coup and is hosting refugees from Myanmar, including the Rohingya.

“In my discussions with a diverse group of refugees from Myanmar, as well as with Malaysian government officials, it was evident that there are high expectations of ASEAN in relation to resolving the current crisis in Myanmar, with humanitarian aid and protection of civilians at the forefront, while not losing sight of the need for an urgent solution to an untenable situation.

“Malaysia’s leadership role as future ASEAN chair will be key,“ he said at a press conference at the end of his mission to Malaysia on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Turk said the development of Malaysia’s first National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights is another welcome development and hope it will be finalised soon in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

He said there has been a lot of progress in terms of development of human rights in Malaysia compared to 20 years ago, as well as real changes in laws, attitude and opening up of civil society in the last couple of years.

“How a society treats its most vulnerable is a key measure of progress, and indeed a litmus test for social and human rights protection. I welcome the Malaysia MADANI national vision, which is about humanity, inclusivity, sustainability as well as just and effective governance,“ he said.