The Joint Coordinating Body (JCB) for peace process funding, chaired by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has approved budget proposals of the peace process implementing bodies at its Feb. 23 meeting in Naypyidaw.
The JCB is comprised of 20 members—10 from the government and 10 from ethnic armed organizations, both signatories and non-signatories of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA). NCA non-signatory representatives include the United Nationalities Federal Council’s Delegation for Political Negotiation (DPN), and Wa and Mongla representatives.
The State Counselor highlighted that “the government is making efforts for inclusiveness in the country’s peace process,” and has invited these groups to sign the NCA and participate in the upcoming 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference.
According to six points agreed upon during the meeting, participants said the joint funding scrutinizing body allowed the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) to receive US$2.5 million in funding this fiscal year from both national and international sources.
The Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JMC) was also given permission to seek $6.5 million in funds from international donors for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
The coordination team for the eight ethnic armed groups can receive $4.7 million over 18 months, which it requested for planning and logistics, said Pado Kwe Htoo Win from the Karen National Union.
The JCB also set a 60 million kyats (about $45,000) limit for the NRPC to spend on each national-level dialogue held in the country, and stressed the need for equal regional spending based on the availability of funds.
Pado Kwe Htoo Win said these funds would be used for issue and regional based political dialogue, but that national-level dialogue on ethnic issues was separately supported by international donors in the various states, respectively.
JMC director Dr. Min Zaw Oo said that as the committee had been effective, it was optimistic it could secure funding to expand its tasks given the approval of its estimated budget.
The JMC has been working on standard operation procedures (SOPs)—the terms of references used to resolve disputes among NCA signatories.
Twelve of around 45 SOPs have been drafted, he said, and applied in recent conflicts in Shan State’s Mong Kung Township between the Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State in Oct. 2016.
With additional funding, the JMC will be able to do more dispute resolution—both at the state and Union levels—as well as hold trainings on capacity and confidence building between commanding officers, he added. Local JMCs would then be able to form and conduct public consultations on the JMC mechanism.
The JMC now runs with about 30 percent of the total staff it says is required, and the funding would increase the workforce.
Dr. Min Zaw Oo added that plans to start patrolling the joint monitoring mechanism in the states and build a computerized complaint system for field staff could also begin.
The JMC mechanism’s funding has been unstable for the past year, since the government transition. It received partial support from the United Nations Development Program, but remains understaffed.
The UN also supports the JMC with technical assistance and this support will continue, as the JCB approved it on Thursday.
In addition to the JCB, the government has its own peace fund into which Burmese nationals can contribute to the peace process.