Phillipp Annawitt | Remarks at Coordination Forum between the Shan State Hluttaw and the Shan State CSO Network

Jun 10, 2017

Your Excellencies, Honorable Committee Chairs, Honorable Shan State Hluttaw Members, Honored representatives of CSOs and Hluttaw staff,

It is a privilege to be back with you here in Taunggyi today at this Coordination Forum between the Shan State Hluttaw and the Shan State CSO Network.

As you are aware, UNDP has supported the Shan State Hluttaw through its Leadership Programme, through the Committee Induction and we hope to introduce our Professional Development Programme to all Members of the Shan State Hluttaw soon. UNDP has supported the Shan State CSO Network in its formation and we have supported it in building the capacities of its Members.

We are therefore particularly happy to support the organization of this Forum which aims at deepening the relationship between the Shan State Hluttaw and the Shan State CSO Network.

What we hope to bring to the table over the next few days is UNDP’s experience in supporting parliament – civil society engagement in a number of countries. In our presentations today and tomorrow we would like to familiarize you with this experience, which we feel could be relevant for your future cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We believe that parliaments and civil society are natural allies. Both work for the development of their community and of their state. Both have an interest in overseeing how the government provides services and implements projects, to make sure the people benefit from it.

MPs and CSOs do not always agree on everything and they do not have to. MPs have been elected to represent their constituencies and they do their best for the development of their townships. CSOs, particularly in Shan State, are deeply rooted in their communities, and very often they speak for very specific groups – women, ethnic communities, or farmers, for instance, and advocate for them. Their different perspective, information, and expertise CSOs have on an issue can be an asset, if there is a willingness to cooperate.

I would like to echo His Excellency the Speaker, U Sai Lone Seng in highlighting that mutual understanding between parliament and civil society is the basis for this cooperation.

CSOs need to understand how MPs represent the people in their constituencies, and they need to understand how the Hluttaw works through its committees to review legislation and oversee the work of the government. The Hluttaw and its MPs should appreciate that CSOs are deeply rooted in their communities and the groups that they represent, and that in some cases, they will may know more on a subject than the MP will.

The Hluttaw should see this knowledge as an opportunity that its committees can tap into when they look for independent information on the ground to tap into as they review laws and oversee the government. Committees do not always have to heed this advice, but they will be wise to listen to it.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Many of the CSOs and MPs will already be familiar with one another, in particular when they are from the same township. This forum presents an opportunity to go beyond these personal contacts and build a relationship between the CSO network and the Hluttaw.

We are looking forward to contributing.

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