Civil Society Organizations Seek Greater Participation in Panglong Peace Conference
By Tin Htet Paing 6 December 2017
YANGON—Civil society organizations (CSOs) specializing in conflict resolution have asked that they be allowed to send delegates to the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference and called for an equal opportunity to participate in discussions on all topics related to peace.
The CSOs made the request in an open letter to leaders of the peace process including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
Some 145 representatives of 92 CSOs participated in the 17th Civil Society Forum for Peace (CSFoP) in Yangon on Dec. 4-5. They discussed key developments and challenges facing the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, including women’s and security affairs, as well as the current conditions faced by people living in the country’s various states and regions.
In the open letter published Wednesday, the representatives made more than a dozen recommendations concerning the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, military affairs and joint monitoring of ceasefires.
Mi Kun Chan Non, a spokesperson for the Mon Women’s Organization and a delegate to the CSFoP, told The Irrawaddy that CSFoP representatives should be entitled to delegate status at the Panglong conferences, rather than their current role as observers
“CSO members include many resourceful individuals with expertise in different sectors. They are able to provide input and suggestions for all five sectors — political, economic, social, security, and land and environmental affairs — of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee,” Mi Kun Chan Non said.
The government has been criticized for failing to recognize CSOs’ contributions to the peace process.
The open letter also called for a review of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in order to further its goals of national reconciliation and peace. The CSO representatives urged the leading stakeholders to publicize the results of their meetings and the records of political dialogues held at each stage.
It also urged the Tatmadaw — the Myanmar Army — and all ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to declare a joint nationwide ceasefire. A similar ceasefire proposal has been put forward for negotiation by a separate bloc of EAOs, the United Nationalities Federal Council. The UNFC has proposed eight points for discussion that would allow its members to sign the NCA if the government and Tatmadaw agree to its terms.
The third session of the 21st Century Panglong Union Peace Conference is scheduled to convene in the last week of January, according to the 6th Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting held in late November.