Connecting the people to their peace process: the importance of good documentation

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Most people’s knowledge of Myanmar’s peace process – if they know anything at all - is limited to what they read about from the media coverage. And often this is limited to the more glamourous meetings of the top leadership. But a peace process is an important part of any country’s history – and detailed documentation of it is needed.

The Research Institute for Society and Ecology (RISE) is working hard, with the JPF’s support, to ensure that this is happening. This means ordinary people, academics, CSOs and State level politicians can have insights into the thinking that is going on inside the peace process itself through the systematic documentation of it. RISE has been documenting the entire peace process since 2015 , publishing 11 books, releasing DVD documentaries and organizing exhibitions. This month it will produce another book of ‘Historic Speeches from Leaders of the first Union Peace Panglong Conference’.

Nan Mya Thida Director of RISE explained that their work in documenting the Union Peace Conferences was providing a vital historical record, not just for people in Kayin, but for all of Myanmar: “A core part of the peace process is the primary data, which hasn’t been publicly available until now. If people are to understand the peace process, ordinary people, academics and politicians all need access to this information. The design and format of the whole peace process has to be recorded. Thus, RISE is filling a vital gap,” she said.

Nan Mya Thida, said their work also focuses on specific outreach to people in Kayin state. “Our organization aims to help shape the political future of Myanmar and to support a strong understanding of the technical side of the peace process. This is particularly important for conflict affected areas which are so in need of better understanding and trust. We see ourselves as a bridge between Kayin’s people and the EAOs. We are helping EAOs understand respective local contexts and helping Kayin’s people understand the peace process through research, policy analysis and assessments,” she said.