Myanmar’s Two Child Policy and the Human Rights Paradoxes By: Dr. Tun Kyaw Nyein

Myanmar’s Two Child Policy and the Human Rights Paradoxes
By: Dr.Tun Kyaw Nyein

The local authorities in Rakhine State reaffirmed a 2005 regulation
imposing a two child policy for Bengali Muslims in Buthidaung and
Maungdaw townships. This policy evoked thunderous howls of protest from
human rights organizations as well as the international media that
slammed it as a violation of human rights.

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Several countries in Asia have child restriction policies. Such 
policies are either already in place, in planning stage or contemplated 
as population growth poses a challenge to the general welfare of their 
citizens. China’s one-child policy is a well known example. Vietnam has 
had a two-child policy since 1960, which is now relaxed; India has a 
two-child policy for a specific defined group; and the Phillipines is 
giving serious thought to child restriction policies.

If we take a look at these policies from the perspective of global
basic human rights as formulated in the United Nations Declaration of
Human Rights, the picture is ambiguous.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) encompasses political,
social, economic and cultural rights, positive and negative rights.
These rights have been specified and amended in the past decades in
several UN conferences and Covenants. For instance, a covenant of 1968
has specified with regard to our topic that “parents have a basic human
right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of
their children.” However, the UDHR has also formulated social and
economic rights such as the right to have work, the right to social
security or like in Article 25 “the right to a standard of living
adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family,
including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social
services.”

All these rights are not prioritized and no right takes precedence over
another. This creates paradoxes.

For instance, many rights can only be met when a state can first ensure
basic economic and social rights such as security, food, and health.
For developing countries, population growth is one of the major
obstacles for improving the lives of their citizens. If a developing
country tries to meet the right “to a standard of living adequate for
the health and well-being” then population growth has to be tackled.
Given the lack of resources and institutions, many sustainable methods
that would encompass broad initiatives such as public health education
and family planning are too costly. A child restriction policy is often
by default the only viable option for poor countries. This is a human
rights paradox.

China’s “One child policy” illustrates both the complexity of the
issue and a human rights paradox. The policy was put in place in 1978
driven by the increase of China’s population which at the time was
threatening to surge beyond a billion. China feared that the population
growth would hobble improvement of the country’s standard of living.
Ironically, the one child policy runs afoul of the above mentioned ICHR
proclamation of 1968 yet it was funded by the United Nations Fund for
Population Activities (UNFPA). Further, the policy was not consistent.
It excluded rural folks or ethnic minorities.
The most egregious example of this paradox is when armed conflicts
erupt. Contrary to the saying, “truth is the first casualty of war”,
the true first casualty is in fact, Article 3 of the UDHR that states:
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

International human rights advocates are slamming Myanmar‘s two-child
policy for Bengali Muslims in the State of Rakhine citing a violation
of human rights and further call for Myanmar to scrap the 1982
Citizenship Law. Accordingly, the international media portrays the
policy as an arbitrary act of a state against a minority. While human
rights advocates tend to simplify problems to make their case,
governments cannot. They have to take into account the complexity on
the ground and find an appropriate policy. In the case of Rakhine, the
complexity derives from decades of uncontrolled and illegal immigration
of Bengalis made possible by a weak state and corrupt officials. This
immigration led to dramatic demographic shifts in Rakhine compounded by
a higher birth rate (31.8 per 1000) among the immigrant group based on
different UNHCR reports. Studies of sectarian and communal conflicts
in the world inform us that demographic shifts are major trigger of
conflicts. Given the volatility of the situation that exists in
Myanmar, generalized demands of human rights advocates that ignore the
wider context and the history of a conflict are not a recipe for peace
and harmony.

Human Rights originate from our rational approach to human issues. They
have been formulated by rational human beings who have discarded the
notions that our natural world operates under magical influences or
that monarchs and dictators could rule over them by divine sanction,
arbitrary rule or sheer force and violence. They are neither perfect
nor absolute but important guidelines and ideals that governments and
societies should strive to live up to.

What vociferous activists in the international NGO industry have to
accept, is that even though human rights are formulated as universal,
they cannot be established and ensured by a global community, by the
UN, international NGOs or human rights activists. They can be lived-up
to and ensured only by a sovereign state, and only under conditions of
peace and basic economic and social stability. The government of
Myanmar is facing multiple policy challenges including the human rights
paradox. It has to consider how to provide for national security and an
economic and social environment that is conducive to the promotion of
human rights for all, not only of immigrants and minorities but for all
its citizens; it has therefore to address the issue of illegal
immigration and corruption as well as of the demographic shift and its
consequences. In facing these challenges that involve national security
issues such as illegal immigration, Myanmar has to resort to its right
as sovereign and make choices based on its national interest. Thus it
should come as no surprise that the government of Myanmar acting in
their national interest rejects formulaic reports and recommendations
made by human rights advocates.

—–

 Several countries in Asia have child restriction policies. Such 
policies are either already in place, in planning stage or contemplated 
as population growth poses a challenge to the general welfare of their 
citizens. China’s one-child policy is a well known example. Vietnam has 
had a two-child policy since 1960, which is now relaxed; India has a 
two-child policy for a specific defined group; and the Phillipines is 
giving serious thought to child restriction policies.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights နဲ႕ child policy ေတြဘယ္လိုမညီမ်မႉေတြျဖစ္ေနလဲဆိုတာကိုအာရွတခြင္နဲ႕ႏိႈင္းယွဥ္ျပထားတာပါ။ သိကိုသိသင့္တဲ႕ဖတ္ကိုဖတ္သင့္တဲ႕အခုလက္ရွိျဖစ္ေနတဲ႕အေျခအေနေပၚမွာေထာက္ျပေဆြးေႏြးခ်က္ျဖစ္ပါတယ္။

If we take a look at these policies from the perspective of global 
basic human rights as formulated in the United Nations Declaration of 
Human Rights, the picture is ambiguous.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) encompasses political, 
social, economic and cultural rights, positive and negative rights. 
These rights have been specified and amended in the past decades in 
several UN conferences and Covenants. For instance, a covenant of 1968 
has specified with regard to our topic that “parents have a basic human 
right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of 
their children.” However, the UDHR has also formulated social and 
economic rights such as the right to have work, the right to social 
security or like in Article 25 “the right to a standard of living 
adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, 
including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social 
services.”

All these rights are not prioritized and no right takes precedence over 
another. This creates paradoxes.

For instance, many rights can only be met when a state can first ensure 
basic economic and social rights such as security, food, and health. 
For developing countries, population growth is one of the major 
obstacles for improving the lives of their citizens. If a developing 
country tries to meet the right “to a standard of living adequate for 
the health and well-being” then population growth has to be tackled. 
Given the lack of resources and institutions, many sustainable methods 
that would encompass broad initiatives such as public health education 
and family planning are too costly. A child restriction policy is often 
by default the only viable option for poor countries. This is a human 
rights paradox.

http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendocPDFViewer.html?docid=4ee754c19&query=Rohingya

http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendocPDFViewer.html?docid=46fa1af32&query=Rohingya

http://drtunkyawnyein.wordpress.com/

U.N. explains why access to birth control is essential to the societal and economic health of developing countries:

http://www.policymic.com/articles/19272/un-declares-birth-control-a-human-right-and-america-falls-short

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