September 23, 2020.

The Government of Myanmar and the Ethnic Armed Organizations are key parties to a formal Peace Process. They have been negotiating ‘basic federal as well as democratic’ principles for the country. In October 2015, all parties agreed that these principles would constitute the Union Accord, the basis to amend all laws–including the 2008 Constitution. Under the current government (2015-2020), no major constitutional change has taken place. The Peace Process remains the most plausible path to amend the constitution, end the armed conflict and lead to a multi-ethnic, federal and democratic Myanmar.

Last month, Myanmar wrapped up the fourth iteration of the 21st Century Union Peace (Panglong) Conference, a series of negotiations that aim to put an end to the country’s numerous ethnic insurgencies. The latest round of peace talks ended with little more than a plan to continue negotiating while violent clashes continued between the army and Karen and Shan groups. Conflicts in Rakhine State have also escalated dramatically since 2019. Growing disaffection with the ruling party has led ethnic parties to merge or form coalitions to secure more rights for their peoples. As attention now turns towards the November 2020 elections and battling COVID-19, the government may put the ongoing peace process on the backburner.

The talk discussed the latest developments, their significance for the Ethnic Armed Organizations and their constituencies, the prospects for peace after the November elections, and the role of ethnic parties. The presentation will have a commentary and a Q&A period.

Audio Presentation by Zaceu Lian, a long-time advocate for democracy, federalism, human rights, and peace in Myanmar. He is an advisor to the Centre for Development and Ethnic Studies (CDES) in Yangon, funded by the K4DM Initiative. He is currently a doctoral candidate at U of Toronto and holds a M.A Degree in political science from the U of Toronto (2010), B.A (Honors) in political science and communications from the U of Winnipeg (2009).

Commentary by Cassandra Preece, a Doctoral student in Comparative Public Policy from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. Her current research includes work on elections, ethnic minority rights and ethnic minority representation in the Asia Pacific. She is the co-author of “Electoral System, Ethnic Parties, and Party System Stability in Myanmar”, European Journal of Development Research (March 2020).