Julie Bishop is new UN special envoy for Myanmar

Former Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop has been named as the special envoy on Myanmar by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the UN announced. Bishop, who currently serves as the Chancellor of the Australian National University, will fill the vacancy left by Singaporean diplomat Noeleen Heyzer since June last year.

In a statement, the UN highlighted Bishop’s extensive background in policy, law, and senior management. Bishop expressed her deep honor at being appointed to the role, emphasizing her commitment to fulfilling the mandates set by the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions of December 2022.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong welcomed Bishop’s appointment, noting her wealth of experience and the critical timing given the worsening political, humanitarian, and security situation in Myanmar. Wong stressed the importance of the special envoy’s role in maintaining international focus and supporting coordinated efforts for a peaceful resolution in Myanmar.

Wong reiterated Australia’s stance, calling on the Myanmar regime to halt violence against civilians, release unjustly detained individuals, facilitate safe humanitarian access, and restore inclusive democracy. She affirmed Australia’s collaboration with Bishop, ASEAN, and the global community to establish conditions for lasting peace.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Prof Genevieve Bell also congratulated Bishop, recognizing her significant contributions to global politics as Australia’s first female foreign minister. Bishop served in the role from 2013 to 2018 under Prime Ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and Scott Morrison, as well as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party from 2007 to 2018 before retiring from politics in April 2019.

Despite her new UN role, Bishop will continue serving as ANU Chancellor alongside her duties with the United Nations.

Myanmar has been embroiled in crisis since the military seized power from Aung Suu Kyi’s elected government on February 1, 2021. The country faces a civil war between the military and a coalition of ethnic minority rebels and an armed resistance movement formed in response to the junta’s crackdown on anti-coup protests.

Julie Bishop, during her tenure as Australia’s foreign minister from 2013 to 2018 under Prime Ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and Scott Morrison, navigated complex diplomatic challenges. Her appointment as the UN special envoy on Myanmar underscores her continued commitment to global diplomacy and conflict resolution.

After retiring from politics in April 2019, Bishop assumed the role of Chancellor at the Australian National University in January 2020. While undertaking her responsibilities as the UN special envoy, Bishop will continue to serve as Chancellor, maintaining her engagement in academic leadership alongside her diplomatic endeavors.

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