Union Peace Conference - 21st Century Panglong

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State Counsellor Aung Sang Suu Kyi making her opening speech at the peace conference. (Photo taken by A. N. Soe/VOA)

The Union Peace Conference - 21st Century Panglong (Burmese: ပြည်ထောင်စု ငြိမ်းချမ်းရေးညီလာခံ (၂၁) ရာစု ပင်လုံ) was a peace conference held from 31 August to 4 September 2016 at the Myanmar Convention Centre 2 in Naypyidaw, Myanmar (Burma).

The first Panglong Conference was held in the Panglong region of British Burma in 1947, and was negotiated between Aung San and ethnic leaders.[1] Despite several meetings between ethnic insurgent groups and the government prior to the Panglong Conference in 2016, it is unclear how many of them will actually attend.

Eighteen ethnic insurgent groups were expected to attend the conference, whilst three ethnic insurgent groups (The Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and the Ta'ang National Liberation Army) were not expected to attend.[2] Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, also attended the opening ceremony. The United Wa State Army left the conference early, saying they were only permitted observer status.[3] The government planned to hold similar conferences semiannually until a permanent ceasefire and peace agreement was drafted; however, only signatories of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) would be able to attend (though this requirement was later scrapped).[4]

The conference was chaired by Lt. Gen. Yar Pyae from the Tatmadaw, Tin Myo Win from the union government, Shila Nan Taung from the parliament, Khun Myint Tun from the ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) and Myint Soe from the political parties. The EAOs called for a federal system that "guarantees justice, equality, self-administration and protection of racial, religious and political rights of ethnic minorities."[5][6]

On 15 October 2016, the Burmese government announced their "Seven Steps Roadmap for National Reconciliation and Union Peace". The goals are:

  1. To review the political dialogue framework
  2. To amend the political dialogue framework
  3. To convene the Union Peace Conference—the 21st Century Panglong in accordance with the amended and approved political dialogue framework
  4. To sign union agreement— the 21st Century Panglong Conference Agreement based on the results of the 21st Century Panglong Conference
  5. To amend the constitution in accordance with the union agreement and approve the amended constitution
  6. To hold the multi-party democracy general elections in accordance with the amended and approved constitution
  7. To build a democratic federal union in accordance with the results of the multi-party democracy general elections[7]

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