By Naw Show Ei Ei Tun and Kim Jolliffe
Download a PDF of this report HERE.
[This report was updated on 24th June 2022, due to the fast-changing situation and a number of necessary edits.]
To download the Burmese and English versions of the Federal Democracy Charter, click HERE [Link in document may be broken]
This briefing paper explores local governance dynamics in Myanmar’s “ethnic” areas. As the junta’s public administration system collapses in these areas, the primary actors filling this void are long-standing ethnic resistance organisations and newly formed local coalition “councils”’ that include elected politicians, ethnic resistance organisations, civil society organisations and striking civil servants. This paper gives an overview of these existing or emerging systems and highlights some of the key opportunities and challenges they face.
The paper also highlights the potential importance of Part II of the Federal Democracy Charter, which provides a basic legal framework that could bring the territories of the ethnic resistance organisations, local councils and the National Unity Government under a common constitutional order, while allowing them to maintain autonomy and self-determination. Establishing a common overarching system could allow these governments to become increasingly recognised as the holders of sovereignty in Myanmar in the eyes of neighbouring countries and the international community.
To achieve this, stakeholders in the National Unity Consultative Council need to communicate about the working version of the Federal Democracy Charter more clearly to the public and international community, including their goals and remaining issues. As the junta’s capacity to govern deteriorates and its international recognition as a sovereign entity diminishes, it is crucial that the world sees that it is being replaced by a new system of sovereign entities that are welcomed and recognised by the people.
International assistance should be provided to these civilian governance entities in order to facilitate assistance to people in in need, help bring an end to military rule, and to address regional security and development challenges. As the junta’s governance apparatus continues to collapse, the best way to prevent the crises associated with “failed state” theories is to give direct financial and technical assistance to the most responsible civilian authorities and social organisations. The interim governmental system emerging within the framework of the Federal Democracy Charter needs to be backed and invested in with urgency.