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Myanmar: DIPD supports parties’ social policy development efforts

How can parties develop policies to address drug abuse in Myanmar? What kinds of approaches can parties take to multicultural and appropriate education policies?

These questions were some of those addressed last week, when DIPD supported the political parties of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) to discuss different policy principles for consideration in the social sector, at a meeting held from 4-6 September in Yangon.

The meeting was the second among a series to support political parties to develop policy proposals to the Union Peace Conference that are based on dialogue and consensus among the members of the UPDJC political party group. A total of 42 representatives from 22 political parties partook in the three-day meeting, including the members of the UPDJC’s social sector working committee.

The second meeting of the Union Peace Conference held in last May adopted the 37 principles, which were formed a part of the Union Accord, including four principles on the social sector. However, as the proverb goes, Rome was not built in a day. There are still many issues to be tackled within the social sector and it is still a daunting question as to what social issues will be discussed in the next Union Peace Conference.

Policy proposals in the making

On the first day, local and international technical experts made presentations and facilitated discussion on the resettlement and rehabilitation of refugees and internally displaced persons, access to land for resettled refugees and internally displaced persons, and reconciliation for those who have suffered under conflict and/or rights violations, as well as perspectives on Myanmar’s health system.

“The meeting provided a good opportunity to build our knowledge [on the reconciliation] and we will need to hold more discussion meeting like this,” U Naing Ngan Lin, a member of the UPDJC’s social sector working committee, commented during the discussion session.

Promoting gender equality and effective drug policies

During the second day, experts in the area of gender equality and federalism discussed approaches to promoting gender equality within a democratic federal union. Although the potential impact of federalism on gender equality is an extremely complex subject, presenters advanced a number of proposals to enhance gender equality across different dimensions. The afternoon session covered a range of discussions representing different communities affected by the drug trade, and policy experts on the drug sector discussed arguments for how to regulate the drug sector.

Defending fundamental rights

The last day of the meeting demonstrated the participants’ increasing comfort to freely discuss issues in a cordial environment. A team of presenters addressed how policies could protect the fundamental rights of a range of vulnerable groups including ethnic minorities, workers, religious minorities, and persons with disabilities. In the afternoon, an expert discussed education policy and issues related to multicultural education in a federal system.

The participants rated the sessions as highly useful in their evaluations, but also highlighted that there were need for more in-depth discussions given the range of issues covered. At the closing remarks, U Thu Wai, the Vice Chair of the UPDJC expressed his thanks to the DIPD for organizing the meeting and discussions, “It is of great support to the group and it would be better if another round of meeting in the social sector can be offered.”

DIPD will continue to support the UPDJC political party group in its policy development efforts as it prepares for the next Union Peace Conference. These efforts represent an important first step in enhancing multiparty dialogue on policy issues among political parties in Myanmar’s political transition.

More information

Read more about DIPD’s engagement in Myanmar here.

Contact DIPD Myanmar representative Khin Thazin Myint at ktzm@dipd.dk

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