Framework for Political Dialogue (Draft) made easy

The first time most of us heard about a framework for dialogue was last year when the Ethnic Nationalities Conference in Chiangmai decided that “a framework for political dialogue” must be agreed upon before the actual dialogue takes place.

Before that, things seemed to be simple: We present our demands and the government considers. The government then presents its own demands and we consider. If both sides reach agreement, the Union Accord would be signed. If there is no agreement, we shake hands, turn our backs on each other, pick up our guns again and return to war.

Nothing could have been simpler until civilization caught up with us. Now it appears there is no easy way out.

Almost seven months later, in April 2013, the third draft was produced by the Working group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC), then made up of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) and non-UNFC groups.

The framework is titled: Comprehensive Union Peace and Ceasefire Agreement (CUPCA), has a Preamble, 4 chapters and 2 annexes (not counting the Military Code of Conduct), altogether 23 pages.

The following is a simplified version (covering only the main points) for simple people like us, as it is understood by this reporter:


The two sides agree upon 3 principles:
  • Immediate end to armed conflict
  • Unity of the country
  • Just and genuine peace

1. Principles  
The two sides agree to abide by common principles, such as:
  • Creation of a just, peaceful and democratic nation
  • Recognition of the 1947 Panglong Agreement
  • Safeguarding of the Union
  • Recognition of the government, ethnic armed groups, political parties, civil society organizations and 30% of women participants as stakeholders

2. Nationwide Ceasefire Accord
  • There must be a joint military code of conduct to guarantee livelihood and security of the people
  • A Joint Ceasefire Committee (JCC) will be established to oversee the implementation of the ceasefire at the Union level
  • Decisions of the JCC will be made by consensus
  • Establishment of liaison offices
  • Provision of humanitarian services and permission of NGOs and INGOs to operate
  • All who are engaged in the peace process will be exempted from laws such as Unlawful Association Act

3. Framework Agreement for Political Dialogue
  • Establishment of High Level Joint Peace Committee (JPC), made up of 7 top leaders each from Government, Ethnic Armed Groups and Political Parties
  • Appointment of Joint Ceasefire Committee (JCC) and National Dialogue Steering Committee (NDSC) by the JPC
  • The NDSC will be comprised of 20 senior members each from Government, Ethnic Armed Groups and Political Parties; its decisions are made by consensus
  • 19 Task Forces (TFs) and Thematic Committees (TCs) will be formed by the NDSC with 10 members each from Government, Ethnic Armed Groups, Political Parties and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for each TF or TC; Their decisions are made by consensus
  • TFs, 9 in all, will be responsible for constitutional issues, while TCs, 10 in all, will be responsible for other essential issues (as outlined in Annex 2)
  • The Panglong/Union Conference, participated by 300 each from Government, Ethnic Armed Groups and Political Parties will be organized by the NDSC; its decisions are made by vote
  • A Joint Dialogue Management Committee (JDMC) will be formed by the NDSC to take care of logistical and managerial issues of the Union/Panglong Conference

4. Transitional Arrangements
The main question dealt with is the subsistence of the Ethnic Armed Groups during the peace process. It is proposed that they are allowed access to resources either through: tax collection, business activities, aid from government or international donors or revenue sharing from mega-projects in their territory

Annex 1: It deals with the scope of participation which need not be discussed here.

Annex 2: Dialogue Issues

The task forces (TFs) of the Union/Panglong Conference will address the following issues:
  1. Constitutional reforms
  2. Security sector reforms
  3. Economic questions
  4. Judicial reforms
  5. Land issues
  6. Education Standards
  7. Language and cultural rights
  8. Religious rights
  9. Health Standards

Issues to be analyzed and proposed by the Thematic Committees (TCs) are:
  1. Humanitarian Issues
  2. National Reconciliation
  3. Drug Eradication
  4. Infrastructure development
  5. IDP/refugee issues
  6. Labor Issues
  7. Non-discrimination
  8. Tourism
  9. Media Issues
  10. Participation of NGOs and role of civil society

For details, please read Comprehensive Union Peace and Ceasefire Agreement,

The WGEC’s August meeting has resolved that the draft will be publicized and discussed with all stakeholders for amendment and approval.


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