Myanmar Invites NP to Support Peace Processes
The Government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, has formally invited Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) to implement an unarmed civilian peacekeeping program there which will support the ambitious peace initiatives in moving forward.
“The peace processes in Myanmar have reached a critical stage, a stage where both local and national-level governments as well as a budding local civil society involved with peace initiatives need the international community’s support,” said Atif Hameed, NP’s Director of Programmes (pictured fourth from right).
The government has made significant progress towards ending the decades-long intra-state armed conflicts with numerous ethnic-minority armed groups. As a first step, until the time of writing, they have signed at least 11 ceasefires since September 2011.
And in November 2012 they officially launched the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), which is to serve essentially as the primary institution involved in the numerous peace processes.
Given its expertise in civilian protection and in particular its work in the Philippines where it is an official member of the ceasefire mechanism, NP was requested to “promptly begin programs” supporting the iniatives of Myanmar’s newly formed Myanmar Peace Center.
This may include, for example, support in providing technical advice in further refining and setting up ceasefire monitoring mechanisms where parties to a conflict agree to certain rules and establish coordination and communications mechanisms with the aim of avoiding misunderstandings that could eventually lead to violence. Such an atmosphere on the ground can stifle higher-level negotiations.
NP was also requested to support “local organizations build their own capacity to be effective and informed actors in the various peace processes.”
The invitation comes in the wake of two exploratory visits undertaken by NP’s Project Development Team in July and November 2012 where they met with a wide array of stakeholders including Minister Thu Aung Minh, Minister of the President’s Office of Myanmar (pictured third from right) who is in charge of the peace processes.
NP is currently in the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Myanmar Peace Center and key local civil society organisations to operationalise its support to the peace processes in Myanmar.
Photo: Atif Hameed, NP Director of Programs, fourth from left and other NP representative with Minister of the President’s Office of Myanmar and other Government Representatives, November 2012, Yangon, Myanmar.