Jump-starting the stalled peace process

Introduction: The Contemporary Impasse

With the Union Peace Conference, known as the “21st Century Panglong”, rescheduled to start on 24 May, we are about to revisit some highly sensitive issues in Myanmar’s recent past that were very wrongly handled at the time. If the forthcoming conference is to right the historical wrongs that have since haunted us, it is essential that all sides in our country’s impasse look back to history and re-assess the reasons for the legacies of conflict and state failure that have long held back national progress. Seventy years after the Panglong agreement in February 1947, nation-building is still an unfinished process, ethnic conflict and human rights violations are continuing, and many of the political and economic challenges have deepened after more than half a century of military rule.

Burma’s New Game Plan: Is Pangkham-led initiative an answer to stalled peace process?

Since October 15, 2015, Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA)-based peace process has been the only game in town. Principally, Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) must sign the NCA before being allowed to participate in what is officially known as the Union Peace Conference – 21st Century Panglong (UPC-21CP), which has been convened twice already, once during the tenure of President Thein Sein and again during the rule of National League for Democracy (NLD) government, under the de facto leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi. The third conference is scheduled to be held on May 24, according to official announcement, following the agreement reached earlier at the Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting between officials of the government and leaders of the armed ethnic organizations that have signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, in Naypyitaw.

“So long as the Burmese Military tries to annihilate us, clashes will continue”: Arakan Army deputy chief of staff

The Arakan Army was established in April 2009, declaring its mission as safeguarding the Rakhine (Arakan) peoples right to self-determination, and protecting the cultural heritage and identity of the Rakhine ethnicity. The Arakan Army (AA) is one of the four members of the Northern Alliance – a coalition that emerged in November 2016 during a joint offensive against the Tatmadaw in Muse township. The alliance, which consists of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Arakan Army (AA), has continued carrying out coordinated attacks on Tatmadaw and government outposts in northern Shan State. The alliance has lobbied for both the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and China to be given observer status in the peace process. None of the four factions of the Northern Alliance have signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).

Vicky Bowman, the diplomat who caught the Burma bug

As a British diplomat fresh in the country in 1990, Vicky Bowman dove enthusiastically into Burmese culture, mastering the language and making friends among the dissidents that operated, surreptitiously, in Yangon’s arts and literary scene—at a time when encounters with foreigners could earn locals heavy police harassment.

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