The breakdown in the ceasefire of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) with the central government represents a major failure in national politics and threatens to escalate to serious humanitarian crisis if not immediately addressed.
Kevin Woods, Tom Kramer, Jennifer Franco, Joseph Purugganan
19 February 2013
Unless foreign direct investment in Burma's war-torn borderlands is refocused towards people-centered development, it is likely to deepen disparity between the region’s most neglected peoples and Burma's new military, business and political elite and exacerbate a decades-long civil war.
The people of Burma are at a critical juncture in their struggle for democracy and ethnic reform. Decisions taken by leading parties and protagonists in the months ahead could well define the direction of national politics for many years to come.
"Opposition parties participating in the process view boycotting the elections as a strategic mistake. The only way forward for them is to play a better game of chess, making the best strategic use of the limited space available."
Hopes remain that, through political negotiation, democratic reforms will be achieved which lead to just and inclusive solutions. But as the countdown to the 2015 general election begins, concerns are growing that essential reforms will not be delivered.
In August the Burma army occupied the Kokang region after several days of fighting, ending two decades of cease-fire with the ethnic minority group. The resumption of fighting in northern Burma raises speculation about the other cease-fires. Tensions are rising and the cease-fire groups have put their armed forces on high alert.
Burma is in the midst of its most important period of political transition in over two decades. TNI and BCN hosted a conference to look at the challenges and opportunities in five key areas: politics, ethnic relations, the economy, social and humanitarian affairs, and the international landscape.
Ceasefires have been agreed; the NLD has elected representatives in the national legislatures; Western sanctions are being lifted; and the World Bank and other international agencies are returning to set up office in the country. Such developments are likely to have a defining impact on ethnic politics, which remains one of the central challenges facing the country today.
This monograph argues that although the United Wa State Party (UWSP) has been branded by the international community as a "narco-trafficking army;' the organization has an ethnic nationalist agenda whose aim is to build a Wa state within Burma.
Local organisations have adopted different strategies towards the authoritarian government in Burma. Focussing on the dynamics of civil society Tom Kramer looks into the possibilities and risks of growing international interest in engagement with these groups.
TNI's Myanmar in Focus project strengthens (ethnic) civil society and political actors to deal with the challenges brought about by the rapid opening-up of the country, while also working to bring about an inclusive and sustainable peace. TNI has developed a unique expertise on Myanmar’s ethnic regions, and through its programme is bringing the whole Institute’s work on agrarian justice, alternative development and a humane drugs policy together.