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Enduring Peace: a Case Study of the Opportunities and the Challenges for Engaging in Myanmar’s Peace Process

In: Global Responsibility to Protect
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In 2015, the Myanmar Government, the Myanmar Tatmadaw (military) and eight ethnic armed organisations (eaos) signed the 2015 National Ceasefire Agreement (nca). In 2019, this agreement was signed by three more eaos, and there have been four annual conferences (Union Peace Panglong Conference 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). The ceasefire arrangements, which are present primarily in Southeast Myanmar, have failed to make significant progress in key areas such as the provision of access to civil documents and land to returning refugees, displaced persons and conflict-affected communities. Violence has escalated in the last two years. It is not an exaggeration to say that Myanmar is at a critical juncture of transition. This article examines how the peace process is being communicated amongst different civil society organisations, international organisations, donor organisations, and government representatives in an area directly affected by the peace process. The article details the experiences of these participants exchanged in workshop in Mon State in July 2018. The exchanges during the workshop reveal a practical obstacles faced by civil society organisations, especially, in their attempt to support returnees. Many reported frustration with the implementation gap between promoting a peace process and providing for local enabling conditions that support peace. Specific barriers faced by civil society organisations, and in turn the communities they are seeking to help were threefold: information and communication barriers concerning the peace process; women’s fear and reluctance to seek services due to personal safety concerns, and the persistence of traditional gender norms which affects access to information.

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