These international efforts are premised on the belief that the current context represents an unprecedented opportunity to resolve ethnic conflicts, and that the international community can support the momentum for peace and help to build confidence in the peace-making process among key stake-holders. The engagement is also premised on the need for broad consultations with affected communities and civil society, and the acknowledgement of the importance of a political peace process.
The Peace Donor Support Group was first convened in June 2012 by the Government of Norway at the request of President U Thein Sein in order to provide a common platform for dialogue between the donor community and the Government of Myanmar, and to better coordinate the international community’s support to peace in general and the provision of aid in conflict-affected areas. The Government of Myanmar asked that the Group be initially composed of Norway, Australia, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Bank. The group held its inaugural meeting with the President in Napyitaw on 12th June 2012.
To date approximately US$30 million has been pledged by the members of the Peace Donor Support Group to fund interventions that support conflict-affected communities and peace-making.
The PDSG have held and will continue to hold regular meetings with President U Thein Sein, Minister U Aung Min and members of the Union Peace-Making Central Committee. The PDSG members also plan to meet with non-state armed groups, civil society groups, and the wider donor community in the coming months. These meetings provide an opportunity for the PDSG to demonstrate political support for the peace-making process, to get a better understanding of the needs and views of different stakeholders, and for drawing on lessons from other experiences.
The members of the Peace Donor Support Group, and other international donors, are also currently providing funding and technical support to MPSI.
MPSI was set up in January 2012 at the request of the Government with the Norwegian Government playing a lead donor coordination role and is under the leadership of Charles Petrie (former UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar). The aim of MPSI is to provide immediate support for the ceasefires agreed between non-state armed groups (NSAGs) and the Myanmar Government. MPSI is currently engaged in supporting the development of projects in Rakhine, Chin, Shan, Karen and Mon areas. The project interventions vary depending on the different contexts in each state and are based on the needs of local communities and non-state armed groups. An important aim is to create local dialogue among stakeholders, in order to support the ceasefires and the building of trust and confidence.
A majority of the projects aim to provide much needed assistance in conflict-affected areas which have been inaccessible or received limited assistance in the past. These projects include short-term relief, de-mining if applicable and with agreement from key stakeholders, and immediate recovery/livelihoods support. In some areas where there has been less active conflict in recent years, such as Chin and Mon states, longer-term projects are also being developed to support poverty alleviation and ethnic language education. Based on request from NSAGs and civil society organisations, other projects are also being developed which provide support for the implementation of the ceasefire agreements. These projects include funding for the start of up of liaison offices established between the Myanmar government/Army and NSAGs, support for civilian ceasefire monitoring mechanisms, as well as support for consultation processes between NSAGs, civil society organisations, communities, and political parties.
To date MPSI has played an important role in demonstrating the commitment of key stakeholders to the ceasefires and the peace process. For example, a pilot project is now underway in Key Der Village Tract, 20 miles east of Kyauk Gyi, where 1585 Karen IDPs are receiving assistance in a very isolated area. With agreement from the Myanmar Government and the relevant non-state armed groups MPSI has facilitated the opening up of access to these conflict-affected communities for local and international organisations. Through this process, the Myanmar Government, Myanmar Army, KNU, KNLA/KNDO, IDPs and local and international organisations (Committee for Karen Internally Displaced People, Norwegian Peoples Aid and ILO) have engaged in a series of joint consultations on the project which has also supported trust building. For further details see annex A and http://www.emb-norway.or.th/News_and_events/MPSI/
MPSI provides a platform for a practical and coordinated response for the PDSG and other donors to support. MPSI initiates projects in collaboration with non-state armed groups, civil society and communities and channels these projects for funding and support to PDSG members and other donors. While MPSI is a short-term initiative, the projects provide important learning for the PDSG as the members continue to develop a longer-term framework for more substantial and sustained peace support.
In addition to the above, funding and assistance will also be provided by the PDSG members for the setting up and on-going operations of the Myanmar Peace Centre.
Within this coordinated approach each member of the Peace Donor Support Group has particular experience, expertise and interests which contribute to the aims of the group.
Norway: As stated above, Norway is leading both the PDSG and MPSI. In addition to this Norway is providing support for a number of years to civil society organisations in Myanmar and on the border involved in strengthening the broader consultation process and dialogue for peace. Norway is also providing support and has increased funding to refugees on the Thai border and funding mine risk awareness and support to mine victims.
The United Kingdom: The UK provides humanitarian support to refugees and internally displaced people in areas affected by conflict, including on the Thai/ Burma border and in Kachin. The programmes where possible support the likelihood of sustainable and voluntary IDP and refugee return through livelihoods and awareness raising interventions to ensure IDPs and refugees are able to play a productive role in society on return. The UK is also considering humanitarian support to IDPs in Rakhine. The UK will support the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative which would provide support to pilots in conflict affected areas including in the areas of demining, food, livelihoods and shelter to facilitate returns. The UK is also supporting peace reconciliation and mediation work. This includes drawing on expertise from the UK’s own conflict resolution experiences in Northern Ireland. The UK intends providing continued support for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)-led Humanitarian Multi-Stakeholder Fund (HMSF). This provides support to conflict affected populations within Burma, delivered by local partners with access to conflict affected areas, which the Government do not control, and where government services are rarely provided.
Australia: In June 2012, Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Senator Bob Carr announced Australia would provide $5 million to support peace activities in Myanmar. In line with this commitment, Australia will be conducting a design mission in October 2012 to develop an overarching analytical framework to inform AusAID’s future support to the peace process in Myanmar. The aim of this framework is to help shape a coherent narrative for Australia’s engagement in the peace process. As part of the MPSI, the Karen National Union and the Government have agreed to a pilot project in Kyaukkyi and Australia is funding the initial phase. Australia is currently reviewing additional proposals which also support the peace process.
The United Nations: The United Nations agencies in Myanmar have identified a set of deliverables that they could provide to people in ceasefire areas within the short-term depending on the identified needs of the communities and consultations with the communities as well as with regional and local actors in both Government and ceasefire areas. This includes: food distribution; livelihoods and community development; primary education support; health, including reproductive health, maternal and child health, immunization, rehabilitation of mine victims, and mobile clinics; water, sanitation and hygiene; protection and monitoring and promotion of rights; shelter; community confidence building; and land mine action.
In the more medium-term, based on a more comprehensive identification of needs and the consultative process, the UN agencies would extend their assistance to include other recovery and development support based on their mandates and comparative advantages, including for any returnees. UN involvement in the return process depends on the safety and security conditions in the areas of return which must be ensured before, during and after return, measured against the criteria of physical security, material security such as access to land, property, livelihoods and basic services, and legal safety . The United Nations Peace Building Support Office has also announced support for peacebuilding, identified and developed in consultation with the Government, including support for the Myanmar Peace Center.
The World Bank: The World Bank intends to provide grant financing for community-driven development activities in order to support the economic and social recovery of communities affected by conflict. The activities will initially focus on a limited number of areas with implementation through experienced community-based organizations. These interventions will be coupled with a robust monitoring and evaluation system (if possible covering both World Bank and other donor interventions in the conflict-affected areas) so as to identify lessons for adapting programs as needed and identifying opportunities for expansion and scaling up. This monitoring and evaluation system should preferably be housed within the Myanmar Peace Centre. Furthermore, the World Bank is considering assistance to the Myanmar Peace Centre through in-depth thematic studies to support evidence-based policy making.
The European Union: The EU intends to support, in the framework of the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative, civilian mine action consisting of three interrelated components:
1) Support for the establishing of and capacity building for a national institution (National Mine Action Centre) to oversee and coordinate all mine action activities in Myanmar. This Centre will, at least initially, come under the authority of the MPC.
2) Conduct of a systematic Non-Technical Survey in selected areas. This survey will identify and map land contaminated with landmines, as well as release land not suspected to contain landmines.
3) onduct a technical survey, mine-clearance and -destruction in selected areas identified as possibly affected by landmines. Surveys and clearance operations will only take place with the explicit consent of the NSAG concerned. The foreseen Implementing Partner is the NPA, who have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Myanmar/Office of the Union President (Minster U Aung Min). The EU support is expected to start in November.
The EU is currently exploring ways to support the start-up of the Myanmar Peace Centre. In addition, through the Aid to Uprooted People Programme, which has a budget of approximately 10-12 million Euro, the EU is supporting displaced and vulnerable communities in South East Myanmar.