The Burmese “Framework for Political Dialogue” (FPD) was finally agreed upon yesterday, December 16th, by the Union Peace and Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) in the country’s capital. The Framework was handed over to the President who will publicize the Framework and call for a political dialogue in mid-January 2016. The UPDJC will be mandated to hold the upcoming political dialogue with the participation of 700 representatives from the government, parliament, defense services, ethnic armed organizations, political parties, ethnic leaders and special invitees.
The final framework was drawn from the 5 frameworks developed by the main stakeholders over the past three years – military, NLD, political parties and ethnic armed groups. Over the past 8 months the representatives from each of these groups developed a common framework draft that formed the basis of this agreement. The meeting in January will be an initial meeting to comply with the provisions of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement signed on 15th October this year. The formal dialogue process will start in late 2016 with the aim to develop a new constitutional framework guaranteeing equality to all the diverse ethnic groups, addressing the shortcomings in the current 2008 constitution and addressing the deep-rooted causes of conflict of the past 6 decades.
PRIO conducted a seminar on "the many facets of dialogue processes – with regards to Tunisia as well as elsewhere." The seminar focused on the following points:
The key contributors were Hannes Siebert, Ghazi Gherairi, and the chair was Kristian Berg Harpviken, PRIO Director.
The event was conducted at PRIO, Oslo.
By Hannes Siebert
Published on the PRIO Blog
In the last century, peace was far more likely the product of victory on the battlefield than a negotiated settlement. From 1940 until 2002, the world witnessed more than 370 state-based conflicts. At any point in time over the last decade, the world hosted nearly 30 armed conflicts simultaneously — many of them “check book wars,” with external powers funding and supplying arms to different internal factions in order to enhance their access to the beleaguered state’s resources.
In this “post-post-colonial” era we are witnessing the post-colonial government incarnations of the colonial “strong man” being replaced by new democratic forces. These new movements are re-defining democracy; they are innovating new forms of representative government; and many are re-considering the nation-state concept. As each of these countries attempts to cut the umbilical cords from their former colonial powers, we see a reduction in external foreign mediation and an increase in mass people’s movements and national dialogues as tools of political transformation. With these significant phenomena, local and national peacemakers and concerned parties work together to resolve their conflict through the creation of joint “self-mediation” instruments, different types of national dialogues and various forms of supporting peace infrastructures that emerge out of these local contexts.
National Dialogues have become a common part of many post-conflict and post-crisis transition processes. These broad-based stakeholder dialogues are usually mandated to define key aspects of the political or constitutional future of a country and are commonly the center-piece of post crisis transitions. In countries with multiple political, non-state and governing stakeholders – varying between 7 and 94 in number – national dialogues are emerging as the only mechanism that can manage and facilitate large complex political transformations and change processes. Some are supported by the United Nations and regional organisations, but most formally mandated National Dialogues have been designed, managed and implemented by the national stakeholders themselves – such as in South Africa, Nepal, Tunisia, Lebanon and Burma.
The composition and management of National Dialogues present extraordinary complex challenges in terms of constructing and managing dialogue between multiple delegations representing a variety of social formations. Their development and design is determined by the dynamics of the past conflict, the depth of the broken relations between groups, the multiple layers of inequality and loss of human dignity, and the failures of existing constitutional and governing instruments.
If one takes a closer look at the change narratives or agenda of their committees and structures, these mandated dialogue structures not only provided new constitutional frameworks, addressing the root causes of the conflict or constitutional failures; they served a much broader function. They also served as spaces and instruments for reconciliation, developing joint visions between former enemies, and slowly evolving an understanding of the needs, perceptions and perspectives of the “other”.
As change and “self-mediation” processes, National Dialogues have been highly undervalued, mainly because they are often insulated from the outside (and less susceptible to international intervention), and also because they usually take an extraordinary amount of time and effort. National Dialogues are also less directed towards the conclusion of agreements (only) than is international mediation. Rather, they aim at establishing an environment for long-term stability, improved relations between state, community and non-state actors, and open communication between all of a society’s major actors on issues that divide them or are of common national interest. The strength of National Dialogues is that they establish a consistent structure deeply rooted in that society that becomes the mechanism to address and agree on fundamental structural change.
Presentation on the One Text Initiative at The Second Conference on Non-Formal Dialogue Processes and National Dialogues
The Second Conference on Non-Formal Dialogue Processes and National Dialogues: Experiences from countries in transition
16 November – 18 November 2015
The House of the Estates (Säätytalo), Helsinki
Building capacity for self- mediation, deadlock-breaking, consensus-building and people’s participatory processes into the change mechanisms
Founder Chairman & Executive Director/CEO
Dr. Thusitha Tennakoon
One-Text Initiative (OTI), Sri Lanka
2014 and 2015 have brought greater attention to the emerging role of national dialogues as transitional mechanisms for countries in conflict to chart their political futures. The first large scale international conference on "National Dialogues and Mediation Processes" was hosted by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs from March 30 - April 2 in 2014. This past October, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. And On November 15th of this year, the second annual conference, titled "Non-Formal Dialogue Processes and National Dialogues" will be convened again in Helsinki, with the sponsorship of the Finnish Foreign Ministry and numerous partners.
Following last year's conference, a report entitled "National Dialogue and Internal Mediation Processes: Perspectives on Theory and Practice" was issued by the Finnish Foreign Ministry. The publication provides an overview of dialogue processes in conflict transformation, examines the role of external actors and presents case studies from Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Also in May of this year, the UK based Conciliation Resources ACCORD series published ACCORD Issue No. 25 "Legitimacy and Peace Processes: From Coercion to Consent."
The Peace Appeal Foundation's co-founder and Senior Technical Adviser, Hannes Siebert, authored "National Dialogue and Legitimate Change" which framed essays on dialogue processes in the Basque region, Myanmar/Burma and Yemen. With discussions and expressions of interest in launching broadly inclusive national dialogues in countries across the globe, including Sudan, Myanmar/Burma, Libya and Ukraine, the Finnish Foreign Ministry will host a second conference on the topic in 2015.