Ethnic Armed Conflict and Territorial Administration in Myanmar




Power to administer territory lies at the crux of Myanmar’s multiple protracted ethnic armed conflicts. Conflicts have been long fought over roles in governance at the local level and have been driven by long running disputes surrounding relevant constitutional arrangements. Not surprisingly, these issues are also at the heart of the ongoing negotiations over a national ceasefire agreement and political dialogue. In light of this situation, The Asia Foundation commissioned this research to examine the administration systems of ethnic armed actors and how they relate to those of government, in order to contribute to a more informed analysis and discussion of the political geography in contested areas. What this initial research highlights is the complex layers and exceptional diversity of local public administration in Myanmar’s contested areas which have evolved over decades. Much more analytical work is needed on a range of challenging issues that will have to be accounted for if Myanmar’s peace process is to progress. In particular, there is a need to deepen understandings of how communities in contested areas engage with various institutions of government and administration systems, and the ramifications that this will have for the peace process. We hope that the Foundation’s research agenda, of which this paper is a part, will make a useful contribution. This research paper is authored by Mr. Kim Jolliffe, an independent researcher who specializes in security, development, and humanitarian affairs in Myanmar. This report was generously funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The opinions expressed in this report are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of DFID or The Asia Foundation.

Dr. Kim N. B. Ninh

Country Representative Myanmar

The Asia Foundation

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