CESD participated in the second meeting of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference held in Nap Pyi Taw between 24th and 29th May 2017. CESD was represented by three senior staff members, U Tin Htut Oo, Chief of the Board of Directors, Senior Research Fellow Win Min and Senior Policy Analyst Min Zarni Lin.

Including CESD, the conference saw nearly 1,400 stakeholders from government, army, parliament, policy think tanks, elected political parties and ethnic groups come together with the shared commitment to understand how different areas of governance could strengthen the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Myanmar.

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CESD Senior Policy Analyst Min Zarni Lin with other delegates at the Union Peace Conference in Nay Pyi Taw

The key takeaway from this year’s Peace Conference is that stakeholders from the government, military, elected political parties and ethnic armed groups who were signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) reached an agreement on 37 of the 41 basic federal principles proposed by the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) and signing part 1 of the Union Accord. However, progress made on issues such as non-secession from the Union and self-determination remain ambiguous, with participants agreeing to continue the discussion on these topics at the next round of talks.

CESD Senior Research Fellow Win Min, who attended the conference as an observer of political matters said the negotiations have moved in a positive direction. “This was a positive start. It was good to have some agreements, although there were disagreements. The Union Peace Conference has opened up the opportunity for further discussions and we hope to see positive changes,” he said.

Not all ethnic groups – attended the conference (name the groups, non-signatories). Most important thing is to build trust. We hope the government will continue discussions with UNFC that did not attend the conference and northern alliance group that just attended the opening session allegedly under the Chinese pressure.

CESD’s Min Zar Ni, who attended the conference with a focus on land use policy issues said the peace conference served as a venue to explore some of the pertinent issues with respect to land ownership that are important while addressing the peace and reconciliation process. “The traditional land use policy in Myanmar has resulted in certain confusion with respect to land ownership in many parts of the country, especially in remote areas. For example, majority of the rural land is inherited and a significant portion of that remains unregistered. The government often views such land as vacant land due to the lack of registration and this has led to certain challenges in recent years. The Peace Conference actively looked at these issues and explored ways in which peaceful and sustainable solutions can be offered,” he said.

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