The government’s policy towards the ethnic peace process is flexible and willing to accommodate to the changes in the country. Their approach is multifaceted, operating on the premise that the peace process is part of a much larger problem including not only military and political affairs, but also social and economic issues, to achieve broader peace dividends. Currently there is no official governmental budget allocated, apart from an endowment for peace to fund the peace team and its activities, but is said to be included soon. The government is working to finalize all the ceasefires by the end of 2013, to hold political dialogue the following year and endorse agreements with all of the ethnic armed groups by 2015.
Union-level peace team (reformed 3 May 2012 – Decree 12/2012)
The latest Union-level peace team is made up of a central committee for making policies and a working committee for implementing policies associated with ceasefire negotiations. The central committee (UPCC) is chaired by President Thein Sein, while the working committee (UPWC) is chaired by the Vice President Sai Mauk Kham. Prior to the Union-level peace team, there were 2 government peace teams created by the Union-level Peace Discussion Group in December 2012. The teams were led respectively by U Aung Thaung U Aung Min, who divided their tasks geographically.
Working committee (52 members) aka UPWC
10 region or state chief ministers
9 regional commanders
18 ethnic parliament members
|18 August 2011: President Thein Sein appealed to dozens of ethnic groups to start talks (announcement No. 1/2011)
President Thein Sein has pledged to make the ethnic issue a national priority, offering dialogue with all armed groups and dropping key preconditions for talks. Specifically, dropping the demand for the groups to become border guard forces, and then an unprecedented national conference to seek political solutions to ethnic divisions. Plans for a peace process were drawn up by the Ethnic Affairs and Internal Peace Committee set up by both Houses of the People’s Parliament and the National Parliament
see the page on conflict resumption to see how initial efforts to deal with ethnic groups reignited past conflicts >>>
Three-phase peace plan
Peace Working Committee – Ceasefire guidelines
In order to reach peace agreements (with ethnic armed groups), Union-level Peacemaking Work Committee will carry out the following duties and report to UPWC central executive committee:
State Level Peace negotiation – 5 Terms
Union Level Peace Negotiation – 8 Points
Reforms in the Government’s peace process
Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC)
Secretariat for the Myanmar Peace Committee and reports to the President’s office
The Government of Myanmar opened the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) in Yangon as part of an agreement with the Norway-led Peace Support Donor Group. It was established to assist the Union Peace-making Central Committee and the Union Peace-making Work Committee for the peace process. It coordinates all peace initiatives and acts as a one-stop service center for donor governments and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) that want to support the peace process. In addition, it will serve as a platform for government officials, members of ethnic militia groups, civil society organizations, international donors and INGOs to meet and negotiate.
The Myanmar Peace Centre plays a key role in the development of a peaceful nation inclusive of Myanmar’s ethnic diversity.
To contribute to sustainable peace and an overall political settlement to the benefit of all the citizens of Myanmar.
The Myanmar Peace center achieves its mission by providing policy advice and strategic level guidance as well as coordinates government activities in five key areas:
Phase 1: November 2012 – February 2013
Specific Objective 1 – Effective monitoring and implementation of ceasefire agreements is ensured.
Phase 2:March 2013 to August 2014
The MPC was originally reported to have opened in July, 2012 on U Wisara Road. It was actually opened on Nov 3, 2012 with a start-up fund of EUR 700,000 from the European Union (a member of the PSDG) and four houses provided by the Myanmar government. The opening ceremony ceremony was attended by the European Commission (EC) President Barroso. The centre has been actively organizing seminars and workshops on confidence-building and peacemaking. However the MPC is officially scheduled to open in March, 2013. At that time more information about its structure and activities will be publicized.