During a three-day meeting at the end of July, DIPD has supported the political parties of Myanmar in developing consensus-based policy proposals to the country’s peace process. The three-day meeting was held in preparation to the third meeting of Myanmar’s 21st Century Panglong Conference, which will be held later in 2017.
Myanmar’s Union Peace Conference, also known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference, aims to bring peace to Myanmar while developing the guiding principles for a federal democratic union. In the run-up to the third meeting of Myanmar’s 21st Century Panglong Conference in late 2017, DIPD supported the political parties of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) to discuss different policy principles for consideration in the political sector at a meeting held from 27-29 July in Yangon. The meeting is first among a series of meetings to support political parties, as one of the key stakeholders in the peace process, to develop policy proposals to Panglong that are based on dialogue and consensus among the members of the UPDJC political party party group.
Myanmar’s political parties have increasingly engaged in the peace process through the 21st Century Panglong dialogues. The second meeting of the Panglong Peace Conference, which was held in Naypyitaw in May 2017, concluded with 37 jointly agreed principles, which were presented as part of the Union Agreement in accordance with the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA).
“Coming together” or “holding together”?
On the first day, international and local experts made presentations on the topics of distribution of powers and state constitutions in a federal system. Experts discussed how different processes of forming federal states have led to significant diversity in state structure and the distribution of powers. In six working groups, and political party leaders conducted an exercise on distribution of powers between the union and state/regional governments, and asked a number of questions regarding principles of division of powers.
Protecting Minority Rights in a Federal Democratic Union
Continuing to build on topics identified for further discussion at the previous Panglong Conference, on the second day experts presented principles and case studies related to self-determination and the protection of minority rights in a federal democratic union. On the last day, parties held productive discussions on a number of the issues raised throughout the first two days of meeting.
Sai Kyaw Nyunt, secretary of political parties of the UPDJC reflected the meeting as highly useful and also highlighted that the group would like to continue to cooperate with DIPD on the other major topics to be discussed during the upcoming Union Peace Conference. According to the Framework for Political Dialogue, the five major topics include political issues, economic issues, social issues, security issues, and land and environmental issues.
Based on the presentations and discussions held, parties identified a range of principles requiring further dialogue and consensus building. Parties’ progress on these core principles demonstrates parties’ commitment to engage meaningfully on these themes. DIPD will work in support and partnership with the UPDJC party group over the coming period to enhance dialogue and capacity development for parties that can make them more effective participants in the process of re-imagining a democratic federal union for Myanmar.
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