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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
As 2012 progressed, perceptions of the real nature of change under the Thein Sein government were challenged by a series of disturbing events in which serious violence and mass displacement of civilians occurred in several parts of the country.
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.
At a time of critical political transition in Myanmar, failure to address the root causes of armed conflict and to create an inclusive political process to solve nationality grievances is only likely to have a very detrimental impact on the prospects for peace, democracy and development
Myanmar is heading to the polls in November 2015, with an expected shift in power from the old elite to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). However it remains unclear whether the new political space created by the transition away from military rule will bring significant legislative power to ethnic nationality-based parties.
There has long been a need for a deeper understanding of the intersections of gender, ethnicity and other identities in peace-building and democratisation. Progress on the rights of women and the participation by women’s organisations in conflict resolution and national reform are vital if sustainable peace and democracy are to be built within the country.