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Federalism, ethnic conflict and the politics of national reconciliation - general studies and sources

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Burma Lawyers' Council website
Description/subject: Contains a number of Burma law-related documents including the BLC journal of "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" (English) and "Journal of Constitutional Affairs" (Burmese) as well as texts in English and/or Burmese of laws/decrees, constitutions and associated documents. The BLC site is down at the moment (permanently?) but the BLC archive is acessible to 2011 in Archive.org via the primary link here.
Language: English, Burmese
Source/publisher: Burma Lawyers' Council (BLC)
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://web.archive.org/web/20110902222123/http://www.blc-burma.org/
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Council for Democracy in Burma
Description/subject: "The next generation of leadership for a truly democratic Burma."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Council for Democracy in Burma
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 17 May 2012


Title: The Forum of Federations,
Description/subject: "The Forum of Federations, “an international network on federalism”, seeks to strengthen democratic governance by promoting dialogue on and understanding of the values, practices, principles, and possibilities of federalism..." Includes a link to the International Conference on Federalism, St Gallen, Switzerland, August 2002.
Language: English
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Individual Documents

Title: From Kings, Colonies and Nations: Lessons from Ethiopia in Building Multination Federalism in Burma
Date of publication: 2009
Description/subject: A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Studies, the University of Auckland, 2009....Abstract: "This study evaluates whether the adoption of an ethnic-based federal system in Burma, as proposed by core opposition groups, could lead to a sustainable peace after the end of the military dictatorship. This is approached through a comparison with Ethiopia. Ethiopia was chosen because it is the only recent example of an attempt to establish a fully ethnic-based federal system after a civil war. A critical examination of Ethiopian and Burmese histories highlights key problems arising from competing narratives of state and nation, which question the basis of the two countries. An inability to address this crisis of state identity and history is a key factor in sustaining separatist conflict in Ethiopia, despite the remaking of the state into a multination federation that provides constitutional guarantees for ethnic self-determination. A similar problem seems likely arise in Burma during and after a democratic transition if questions of history and state identity are not addressed. Another key lesson from the Ethiopian experience is the possibility of territorial federalism contributing to a further ethnicisation of conflicts over land and resources, a problem that might be alleviated through non-territorial autonomy. Multination federalism may offer an alternative solution to the problem of protection for minority groups in countries like Burma and Ethiopia that have already experienced the trauma of failed nation-building projects. But lessons from the failings of Ethiopian federalism suggest the need for further measures to prevent violent disintegration in Burma if this direction is pursued there."
Author/creator: David Fisher Gilbert
Language: English
Source/publisher: University of Auckland
Format/size: pdf (2.1MB)
Date of entry/update: 11 August 2012


Title: ETHNICITY, CONFLICT, AND HISTORY IN BURMA T- he Myths of Panglong
Date of publication: December 2008
Description/subject: Abstract: "The effects of the 1947 Panglong Agreement on Burma’s ethnic minority groups can still be seen today in calls for a return to the spirit of Panglong, but there are conficting versions of this event and its legacy. In order to grasp the prospects for ethnic unity in Burma, it is necessary to deconstruct the various “myths” of Panglong..." Keywords: Burma, Myanmar, Panglong, ethnic, confict
Author/creator: Matthew J. Walton
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asian Survey: Vol. XLVIII, No. 6, November /December 2008
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 22 July 2013


Title: Federalism and Ethnic Issues in Burma: Selected Political Writings, 1988-2008.
Date of publication: 2008
Author/creator: Lian H. Sakhong
Language: Burmese
Source/publisher: Chiang Mai: Wadina Press
Format/size: pdf (1.3MB) - 389 pages
Date of entry/update: 15 April 2010


Title: How not to Grant Autonomy
Date of publication: June 2006
Description/subject: A remote republic within Russia provides a lesson to Burma on how not to federate along ethnic lines... "Of the many oddities that Russia inherited from the erstwhile Soviet Union, this must be the most peculiar: the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan. Located in a remote corner of the Russian Far East, it’s as far from the Land of Canaan as one could possibly get, but there it is, wedged between the Chinese border and the mountains of Khabarovsky Territory. And strange as it may seem, there may be a distant parallel with Burma’s ethnic minority situation..."
Author/creator: Bertil Lintner
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No. 6
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 29 December 2006


Title: Divide or Rule
Date of publication: April 2005
Description/subject: "As the recent arrest of key Shan figures casts a cloud over the National Convention’s attempts at national integration, ethnic minority in-fighting continues to play into Rangoon’s hands Shan leaders gathered in Taunggyi on February 7 (Shan State Day) to discuss the formation of a united Burma, a “genuine federal union” in which all ethnic groups would enjoy equal rights. Also attending the meeting were prominent Burmese and Shan politicians, together with members of various quasi-political bodies including ceasefire groups. SNLD members at the National Convention in 1993 Long suspicious of Shan breakaway movements and anxious not to distract from the constitution-drafting National Convention’s reconvening on February 17, the military government moved in and over the next few days arrested several key figures. Among those taken into custody were 82-year-old leading Shan politician Shwe Ohn, Sao Hso Ten, president of Shan State Peace Council, and Hkun Htun Oo and Sai Nyunt Lwin, chairman and secretary respectively of the Shan National League for Democracy, the second largest vote getter in the 1990 election..."
Author/creator: Nandar Chann
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 13, No. 4
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 April 2006


Title: Ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung? Das Nationale Versöhnungsprogramm.
Date of publication: March 2005
Description/subject: Die Initiative ethnischer Oppositionspolitiker von 1999 zielt auf die verstärkte Zusammenarbeit von bewaffneten und politischen Minderheitenorganisationen in Burma ab. Die Autorin fragt, ob sie die Chance hat, dem Ver-söhnungsprozess eine neue Qualität zu geben. National Reconciliation Programme, co-operation between ceasefire, non-ceasefire groups and political parties
Author/creator: Ulrike Bey
Language: Deutsch, German
Source/publisher: südostasien Jg. 2005, Nr. 1, Asienhaus
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 10 June 2005


Title: Burmese Politics and the Broken Unity
Date of publication: May 2002
Description/subject: "Recognizing Burma's diversity is the first step to achieving real unity. "I have always wanted to see unity," declared Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a recent interview with The Irrawaddy shortly after her release from house arrest. She was addressing the notion of unity among opposition groups within and outside the country, which in her eyes, are in disarray. Certainly, the current fragmentation among opposition groups does not bode well for democracy in Burma..."
Author/creator: Aung Naing Oo
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 10, No. 4, May 2002
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burma's Ethnic Problem is Constitutional
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: Federalism in Burma: "...Has Burma really been on the brink of fragmentation since independence? Are the ethnic nationalities and the politics of ethnicity the root cause of the problem? Was General Ne Win correct when he claimed in 1962 that he had to seize state power to prevent Burma from disintegration? The current State Peace and Development Council also claims that there are 135 languages and 8 major races in Burma requiring a strong centralized military to keep the country together. Is this true? ..."
Author/creator: Harn Yawnghwe and B. K. Sen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: PDF
Alternate URLs: The original and authoritative version of this article may be found in "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 at
http://www.blc-burma.org/activity_pub_liob.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Federalism and Self-Determination: Some Reflections
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: Federalism in Burma: "Federalism has, for many decades now, been seen an answer to the challenges posed by multi-ethnic societies the world over. In some cases, the idea has worked, while in others it manifestly has not. Where it has failed, the reasons have often lain as much with human deficiencies as with systemic shortcomings..."
Author/creator: Venkat Iyer
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: PDF
Alternate URLs: The original and authoritative version of this article may be found in "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 at
http://www.blc-burma.org/activity_pub_liob.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Federalism as a Solution to the Ethnic Problem in Burma
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: Federalism in Burma: "From January 4, 1948, the day the Union of Burma came into existence as an independent nation, the people and their leaders have been divided over how to achieve national unity and structure their state. Until 1988, it was federal in name and theory, but unitary in practice. After five decades of political discussion, peaceful movements for secession or autonomy and warfare, the majority Burmans and most of the ethnic minorities remain disunited. From time to time efforts have been made by the Government of Burma and the minorities, either alone or in groups, to end revolt and disunity, but none have succeeded. Today, the basic problem is the same as the one the nation's founding fathers faced fifty years ago: how to construct a political system wherein diverse peoples feel free and equal, able to govern themselves in their own areas, protect and preserve their languages, cultures and traditions, while at the same time give their political loyalty to the nationstate..."
Author/creator: Josef Silverstein
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: PDF
Alternate URLs: The original and authoritative version of this article may be found in "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 at
http://www.blc-burma.org/activity_pub_liob.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Federalism With A New Twist: Burma's Only Option
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: Federalism in Burma: "The author of the article "The Panglong Spirit Lives On" (Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe in The Irrawaddy, July 2001) argued that the guiding principle of the Panglong Accord is "unity in diversity". He raised the question as to whether there is a formula for ending Burma's decades of ethnic strife, and answered it himself with "Yes, and it is none other than the political vision that brought modern Burma into existence half a century ago". This is begging the question: what is this political vision, which is abstract in terms of people's understanding? The meaning of terminology such as "unity in diversity" is academically attractive, but in the understanding of the activists it helps little. However, Yawnghwe retrieved much of the ground lost in the struggle evolving a viable concept for the establishment of a stable Burma by stating that the major goal is the establishment of a democratic, federal Union of Burma, to be composed of self-determining states living together in equality and peace. It is argued that core issues must be addressed, and the debate has to be brought to a fruitful end..."
Author/creator: B. K. Sen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: PDF
Alternate URLs: The original and authoritative version of this article may be found in "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 at
http://www.blc-burma.org/activity_pub_liob.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Federalism, Burma and How The International Community Can Help
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: Federalism in Burma: "International Community can help via systematic study and consideration of the world's federations, in pursuit of an understanding of what federalism can achieve when presented with a range of entrenched political and/ or ethnic problems. The international community thus provides and becomes the backdrop, and the actor/ participants can research, inform, educate, and consider whether and in what ways federalism can provide some solutions to the crisis of governance in which they flounder. Burma has never progressed past the polarised and prevailing view of federalism, yet for so long an aspiration of many of Burma's leaders, notably the National Democratic Front (NDF) since its formation in 1976, and still today. 1 The United Nationalities League for Democracy (UNLD) an umbrella political organisation of non-Burman nationalities that formed in 1989 likewise embraces federalism as a path to political, therefore constitutional settlement, that will bring peace and prosperity. 2 Until the political actors in and of Burma have this debate, its ability to resolve its political differences by political means to effect a constitutional settlement will elude them. National reconciliation will remain a catch cry..."
Author/creator: Janelle Saffin
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: PDF
Alternate URLs: http://www.blc-burma.org/activity_pub_liob.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Federalism: Putting Burma Back Together Again
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: Federalism in Burma: "This paper deals with the absence or the non-existence of a functional relation between the state in Burma and broader society which is also made up of non-Burman 1 ethnic segments that inhabit the historical-territorial units comprising the Union of Burma. 2 Introduction: Putting the Country Back Together Again The paper looks into the problems related to the task, as yet to be accomplished, of "putting the country back together again", in contrast to the claim of the military and its state is "keeping the country together". It is here argued that although the military has, in a manner of speaking, "kept the country together", it has also distorted the relation between the state in Burma and broader society by monopolizing power and excluding societal elements and forces from the sphere of the state and from the political arena. The military's centralist, unitary impulse, informed by it ethnocentric (Burmanization) national unity formula, has contributed to a dysfunctional state-society relation, that has in turn brought about the present crisis of decay and general breakdown, making Burma a failed state..."
Author/creator: Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: PDF
Alternate URLs: http://www.blc-burma.org/activity_pub_liob.html
Date of entry/update: 15 July 2010


Title: In Search of a Constitution for Burma
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: Federalism in Burma: "Constitution can be a strong foundation for every country to be established as a just, free, peaceful and developed society. Burma is in the process of producing a new constitution. By amalgamating lessons from previous historical experiences and current practical situation of the country, it is hoped that a proper constitution for future Burma might be produced. Major concern is that without finding ways and means to resolve the underlying issues of a country, production of constitution superficially is meaningless and constitution might not be effective from positive aspect in our future society. In this account, the constitution making process or the way, how a constitution will be produced, is of paramount importance. In attempting to produce a constitution, onesided or unproper guidance to the people should be avoided. In a genuine constitution making process, the people, regardless of race, social origin, gender and etc, should be allowed to uncover their sufferings frankly, propose possible solutions positively, and express their will to restructure the society freely thereby leading the process to be more and more participatory. Any kind of discrimination should not be exercised within a genuine constitution making process whether be it federal or state constitution making processes..."
Author/creator: Aung Htoo
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: PDF
Alternate URLs: http://www.blc-burma.org/activity_pub_liob.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Interview With Sao Seng Suk
Date of publication: April 2002
Description/subject: Federalism in Burma: (Sao Seng Suk is the Chairman of the Shan State Constitution Drafting Committee. Following is a literal transcript of the interview he had with U Aung Htoo and B. K. Sen). "Do you consider the constitution to be the core issue in a peaceful political settlement in Burma?" Sao Seng Suk: "Yes, I certainly do. Because all problems arose since Pyidaungzu was established in 1947 from the then constitution. If all accept democratic constitution, historical problems can be settled peacefully and the country rebuilt according to constitution, as there will be many kinds of freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of activities, etc." "What type of Constitution will be viable?" Sao Seng Suk: "Federal type constitution, federal is suitable for us..."
Author/creator: U Aung Htoo, B. K. Sen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: PDF
Alternate URLs: The original and authoritative version of this article may be found in "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 11 at
http://www.blc-burma.org/activity_pub_liob.html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burma and National Reconciliation: Ethnic Conflict and State-Society Dysfunction
Date of publication: December 2001
Description/subject: It is maintained that Burma’s ‘ethnic conflict’ is not per se ethnic, nor that of the kind faced by indigenous peoples of, for example, North America, but a conflict rooted in politics. Following the collapse of Burma’s General Ne Win’s military-socialist regime in 1988, the issue of ethnic conflict has attracted the attention from both observers and protagonists. This attention became heightened following the unraveling of the socialist bloc and the emergence of ethnic wars in those hitherto (presumed) stable socialist nation-states.
Author/creator: Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 10 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal_Issues_on%20Burma_Journal_10.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 August 2004


Title: Secession and Self-Determination in the Context of Burma's Transition
Date of publication: December 2001
Description/subject: "The word 'secession' has originated from the concept of 'self-determination'. Apart from its historical context, 'self-determination' can also be seen in its plain meaning. The Oxford Dictionary defines 'self-determination as, 'The right of a nation or people to decide what form of government it will have or whether it will be independent of another country or not'. The second part of this definition is easy to understand. A nation or people has the right to be independent of another country when under subjugation of that country. But sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a nation striving for selfdetermination is actually a nation..."
Author/creator: B.K. Sen
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 10 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal_Issues_on%20Burma_Journal_10.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Federalism and Burma
Date of publication: August 2001
Description/subject: "Despite the fact that Burma has a highly centralized unitary government system, the issue of federalism has been a major source of debate for decades. Ever since the formation of the independence movement, the various ethnic groups in Burma have wanted to transform the country into a federal union based on equality. The Panglong Agreement1 provided the basic foundation for this, but post-independence Burma did not become a federal union in spite of the urgent need for this. The non-Burman 2 ethnic groups in Burma have not given up their demands for federalism. Most of them are still engaged in insurgency movements against the central government,3 which has been dominated by Burmans since 1948. The ethnic insurgency movements emerged as a result of the government’s failure to deal with the demand for federalism peacefully. The non-Burman movement for federalism and political equality (the ‘Federal Movement’) has consistently tried to resolve the issue peacefully. The non-Burman ethnic groups even participated in the 1990 elections, with federalism as their main motive. In the elections, the UNLD (United Nationalities’ League for Democracy, the alliance of ethnic parties in Burma) occupied the second largest number of seats after the NLD (National League for Democracy). However, federalism does not mean anything to the non-Burman groups unless the right to self-determination, including the right to secession, is part of it..."
Author/creator: Khin Maung Win
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Legal Issues on Burma Journal" No. 9 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Alternate URLs: The original (and authoritative) version of this article may be found in "Legal issues of Burma Journal" No. 9 at http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/Legal%20Issues%20on%20Burma%20Journal%209.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Issues of self-determination in Burma
Date of publication: April 2000
Description/subject: "This paper seeks to provide an introduction to the concept of self-determination, and to suggest the importance of this concept in Burma. A comprehensive analysis of either topic is beyond the scope of this paper, which is aimed at readers without great familiarity with either area. Suggestions for further reading may be found in the references. The paper begins by discussing the concept of self-determination, and its varied meanings. A brief history of the development of the concept follows, in which the meaning of self-determination beyond decolonisation is touched upon. The situation of minorities within a state is then considered. The second section of the paper is a discussion of the particular case of Burma..."
Author/creator: Louise Southalan
Language: English
Source/publisher: Legal Issues on Burma Journal No. 5 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Federalism and the Protection of Minority Rights: Some lessons for a new democratic Burma
Date of publication: October 1999
Description/subject: "...federalism offers the best hope of creating a more stable and harmonious polity, especially in societies such as Burma that are deeply divided along ethnic lines. The architects of a new democratic Burma would do well to embrace this concept - with all its promise and all its challenges - but they need to work very hard to ensure that any future Burmese federation lives up to the high expectations of the Burmese peoples. Not only will the balance between unity and diversity have to be struck with a great deal of pragmatism, but every effort will have to be made to secure the widest possible consensus on the terms of the new federal settlement. More importantly still, no one should be left in any doubt as to the continuing price that every man, woman and child across the land would have to pay - in terms of patience, vigilance, tolerance and co-operation - to make federalism a success..."
Author/creator: Dr. Venkat Iyer
Language: English
Source/publisher: Legal Issues on Burma Journal No. 4 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Federalism: The best option for national reconciliation and peace in Burma
Date of publication: October 1999
Description/subject: "...Federalism has made democracy more viable by providing a way for ethnic, religious, racial and linguistic communities to benefit from political and economic union while retaining considerable autonomy, self-government and communal identity.1 Our history has proven that a unitary or quasi-federal system is inefficient in bringing about peace and prosperity. Genuine federalism is the best option to bring about national reconciliation and pave the way for rebuilding Burma as a modern nation..."
Author/creator: Dr. Thaung Htun
Language: English
Source/publisher: Legal Issues on Burma Journal No. 4 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: The Pyidaungzu, Federalism and Burman Elites: A Brief Analysis
Date of publication: May 1999
Description/subject: Drafting a constitution in Burma. "Federalism is not quite understood in Burma. In fact, it would not be wrong to say it is grossly misunderstood by -- among many others -- the Burman population segment, or at least by its armed elites (or elites in uniform). To armed Burman elites, Federalism is synonomous with the destruction or the disintegration of the Union. The Burman-dominated military led by General Ne Win introduced and entrenched this idea when they usurped power in 1962..."
Author/creator: Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe
Language: English
Source/publisher: Legal Issues on Burma Journal No. 3 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 August 2004


Title: Shan Federal Proposal, 1961
Date of publication: 25 February 1962
Description/subject: Document containing proposals For the REVISION of the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNION OF BURMA submitted by THE SHAN STATE, translated by Sao Singha. This document was ratified by the Convention, attended by delegates from the entire Shan State, which was held in Taunggyi on Saturday, 25th of February, 1961.
Language: English
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 08 December 2010


Title: HISTORISCHE ENTWICKLUNG DER ETHNISCHEN KONFLIKTE IN MYANMAR / BURMA
Description/subject: Vor der Ankunft der britischen Kolonialmacht waren die burmanischen Königreiche zwar die dominierende politische Kraft, ihre Herrschaft über die Minderheiten blieb aber beschränkt. Zu keinem Zeitpunkt in der vorkolonialen Geschichte bemühten sich die Monarchen darum, die Minderheiten unter Zwang zu assimilieren. Politisch relevant wurde die ethnische Zugehörigkeit erst unter der britischen Kolonialherrschaft, als das Land in das direkt verwaltete Burma proper (Burma an sich) und in die indirekt verwalteten frontier areas (Grenzgebiete), das vornehmliche Siedlungsgebiet der Minderheiten, geteilt wurde. Karen (KNU); Panglong-Abkommen; Waffenstillstandsabkommen; History of ethnic conflicts in Burma; Karen (KNU); Panglong-Agreement; Ceasefire Agreements;
Author/creator: Heike Löschmann
Language: Deutsch, German
Source/publisher: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
Format/size: html (25k)
Date of entry/update: 19 October 2007