Myanmar is at a historic stage in its development and its multiple transitions from conflict to peace, from military and autocratic rule to a democratic government and for a largely closed economy to an open market. Achieving lasting peace and the emergence of a union based on the principles of democracy and federalism will require an ongoing process of political dialogue and reform. Similarly, the peace process faces challenges in ensuring an inclusive and flexible approach that is acceptable to all parties involved in the national dialogue, and the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee is building its structures and capacities to monitor adherence to the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. In this regard, it will be important to encourage a broad range of stakeholders to contribute to and support the peace process including civil society, youth and women.
UNDP covers four broad areas of work to advance governance and sustainable peace:
1. Strengthening effectiveness of state executive and legislative institutions
By understanding the needs and aspirations of the population of Myanmar, in all its diversity but also growing inequalities, UNDP supports public institutions formulating, implementing and evaluating policies as well as in appropriating public resources in a way that provides effective, timely and equitable responses to these aspirations. It seeks to help the government of the Union of the Republic of Myanmar deliver more inclusive dividends from the transition to democracy, peace and growth, hence contributing to securing the social contract between state and society, a condition for the long-term stability and prosperity of the country.
The centerpiece of this area of work, and more broadly of UNDP’s new Country Programme 2018-2022, is to provide dovetailed support to:
- core government functions that are essential building blocks of the machinery of the government to make policies deliver concrete results for people’s lives. For example, strengthening the executive coordination of policy formulation, implementation and evaluation; improving planning and budgeting processes and reinforcing local governance at state, region and township levels. This requires strong and reliable evidence and better systems for producing and disseminating data.
- parliamentary processes as Parliaments define laws that organize a country’s public sector management system and make governments deliver their core functions with responsibility and accountability.
2. Strengthening accountability and rule of law
UNDP supports the Government of Myanmar to address low public trust in state institutions at a critical time in Myanmar’s transition. Building on the clear initiative of all three branches of the state to promote transparency and accountability, while recognizing the prevalence of corruption, lack of parliamentary oversight, and low adherence to principles of administrative justice and rule of law, UNDP helps to strengthen institutional frameworks and capacities for good governance. This area of work assists rights holders to be empowered and engaged in accountability mechanisms that allow them to seek redress when arbitrary, incorrect, or discriminatory administrative decisions are made by government officials.
UNDP supports the Anti-Corruption Commission to lead a national effort to tackle corruption and to promote transparency and accountability. It will work with the Union Civil Service Board and other key institutions to strengthen frameworks for improved ethics and integrity across all levels of public service, increase merit-based hiring and promotions, and help ensure that administrative services are delivered in a fair, unbiased and non-discriminatory manner.
Union, Region and State parliaments will be supported to strengthen oversight mechanisms through appropriate committees and strengthen capacity of Members of Parliament to fully represent the interests of their constituents, especially when grievances about the poor functioning of the government at the constituency level manifest. UNDP will work with the Union Attorney General’s Office, the Office of the Supreme Court of the Union and the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to strengthen the application of rule of law and administrative justice principles, and to promote awareness and protection of human rights. Across these areas of intervention, people will be engaged to increase their role in accountability mechanisms, administrative review and oversight processes.
UNDP adopts a multi-level approach, from the Union to the State and Region level, and seeks to strengthen the internal accountability mechanisms of each branch of government so that they serve as a check and balance on each other, as prescribed in the 2008 Constitution.
3. Support the civil service reform process
UNDP contributes to the development of a more peaceful and inclusive society based on human rights through supporting the Government to update the regulations governing civil service personnel to include clauses on gender, diversity and inclusiveness. Strengthening of merit based and transparent personnel management systems in recruitment, transfer and promotion will contribute to:
- more democratic and accountable government institutions at both Union and sub-national levels;
- reducing the percentages of men and women civil servants feeling recruitment, promotions and postings are based on connections or bribes.
UNDP puts much emphasis on capacity building through leadership development and modernizing in-service administrative training to enable more effective core functions and responsive service delivery, and thereby increase public trust in the government.
UNDP ensures that there is coherence in the policy, regulation, procedures and practice in civil service management.
4. Sustaining peace
UNDP proposes a new way of working for sustaining peace. It demands mobilizing a wide coalition of partners, at both national and subnational levels to draw upon a number of services lines (thought leadership, capacity development, partnerships, convening and financing) to facilitate the iterative ideation, design, testing and deployment of innovative solutions packages that:
- support a national ‘infrastructure for peace’ and other key stakeholders to establish and strengthen the necessary foundations for continuing Myanmar’s transformation towards a durable positive peace;
- support the UN system’s efforts to become a more coherent and effective partner for sustaining peace through strengthening a national infrastructure for peace, promoting community cohesion, managing transitional and political risks related to development, humanitarian and peacebuilding initiatives operating in a complex context.
UNDP is premised on the assessment that significant elements of Myanmar’s wider ‘peace infrastructure’ requires additional support in order to enhance resilience to violence and conflict as the country navigates complex, multisectoral challenges of its transformation. UNDP believes that investing in these areas of work can help enable Myanmar stakeholders, institutions and processes to more confidently and increasingly transform Myanmar society towards the conditions necessary for a durable positive peace.
A conflict-sensitive approach
Apart from the above four broader areas of work, UNDP will integrate peacebuilding and conflict-sensitive approaches across the country programme by strengthening the capacities of ministries, State and Region parliaments, judicial institutions and communities to adopt conflict-sensitive approaches, based on social cohesion principles, to rule of law, access to justice, township and State and Region planning, service delivery and natural resources management. UNDP also promotes greater involvement of women and youth groups in the peace process.
UNDP will work with all communities affected by the conflict to achieve conflict-sensitivty, in coordination with other humanitarian and development actors. Government leadership and coordination is key and integral for the longer term sustainable development, advancing on the SDGs and ensuring no one is left behind. As the development arm of the UN, UNDP plays an important role in bridging early actions with long term development options, hence offering an end-to-end approach from emergency employment into longer term resilient recovery, which is the approach undertaken in the Rakhine area-based project.
UNDP’s area based programme in Rakhine addresses the social and structural barriers that prevent women’s participation and voices both in the formal peace process and in bottom up peacebuilding processes through fostering social cohesion between communities in Rakhine. It supports the Government of Myanmar in its efforts to undertake a joint assessment for joint planning in Rakhine State. It is initially envisaged that the assessment would be focused on livelihood and vulnerability issues and piloted in a few specific areas in Rakhine State with the possibility of scaling to cover the entire state. Under township planning interventions, UNDP actively supports democratic local governance by giving local people a voice to influence annual township planning and budgeting through elected representatives, being Hluttaw members, ward and village tract administrators and representatives from civil society organizations. The proposed interventions are designed to reflect a phased approach from immediate response to longer term development.