Lessons Learned from MPSI’s work supporting the peace process in Myanmar

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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The Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI)

• The MPSI was launched in March 2012, following a request from the Government of Myanmar to the Government of Norway to lead international support to the peace process. MPSI was never intended to be a mediation initiative, but rather designed to come in just behind the political momentum of the peace process, helping to support ceasefire agreements reached by the Government and Ethnic Armed Groups. Enabling this role to be played by an international actor was a first for Myanmar, reflecting the new opportunity for peace between national actors. It was also quite a unique arrangement in comparison to other peaceJmaking processes internationally.

• This report brings together research conducted in the last year, including an MPSI ‘Reflections’ report produced in early 2013, an independent review of MPSI undertaken in 2014, and is informed by field trips, discussions with peace process stakeholders, the insights of MPSI staff, meetings and workshops with Government and Ethnic Armed Groups, community meetings and project reporting. The report seeks to reflect on those two years of support, and suggest ways to frame and improve international support to the peace process and aid into conflictJaffected areas.

• In the last two years MPSI has facilitated projects that built trust and confidence in J and tested J the ceasefires, disseminated lessons learned from these experiences, and sought to strengthen the local and international coordination of assistance to the peace process. In doing so MPSI engaged with the Government, Myanmar Army, Ethnic Armed Groups, political parties, civil society actors and communities, as well as international partners, to provide concrete support to the ceasefires and emerging peace process.

• MPSI associated projects have been undertaken across five ethnic States (Chin, Shan, Mon, Karen and Kayah) and two Regions (Bago and Tanintharyi). Projects have been delivered in partnership with seven Ethnic Armed Groups, thirteen local partners (four of which are consortia), and nine international partners. Flexible and responsive funding was received from Norway, Finland, The Netherlands,
Denmark, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the European Union and Australia.

• From the outset, the intention had been for the MPSI to provide temporary support to the emergence and consolidation of peace, in the absence of appropriate, longerJterm structures and while more sustainable international peace support responses were mobilised. In line with its stated purpose of being a temporary structure, MPSI aspired for its work to be continued by local actors, national and international NonJgovernmental organisations and other entities including sector donor funding instruments, such as the Peace Donor Support Group (PDSG).

• There have been many contextual, political and structural challenges for MPSI in carrying out its role.
These have included tensions in the peace process itself, especially delays in starting necessary political dialogue; managing the expectations of key stakeholders; developing MPSI’s own working processes (without creating an ‘institutionalised’ structure); limitations in capacity and knowledge (especially regarding best practice to enable community agency and empowerment); and maintaining a flexible, adaptive, responsive strategy (i.e. working without a ‘blue print’) while implementation was already underway.

• The following paper seeks to set out lessons, reflections and insights on the work of MPSI. It is composed of a background section, a section on lessons learned during two years of MPSI’s work, and a section examining application of the New Deal Framework to the Myanmar context. It has four annexes:

i) overview of MPSI-­‐supported projects;

ii) list of considerations for organisations when planning and implementing projects in conflict-­‐affected areas;

iii) interview responses resulting from MPSI’s listening project conducted over the last quarter of 2013; and iv) independent review of the MPSI:
Executive Summary.