Unlocking Civil Society and Peace in Myanmar: Opportunities, obstacles and undercurrents [EN/MY]


​Two decades ago, civil society in Myanmar was declared dead. Now, in the wake of reforms starting in 2010, a diverse cross section of civil society organisations (CSOs) has proliferated across the country. Many of them have made important contributions to efforts to achieve peace in a country whose people have known armed conflict and communal divisions for decades.

These contributions are as diverse as the CSOs making them. Some have sought to engage actively in the formal national peace process, for example, while others are working informally at the grassroots. This Discussion Paper from the PSF draws on research in cities, towns and villages across the country in the hope of offering deeper insights into the efforts of those working for a peaceful Myanmar. It is a snapshot, rather than a comprehensive overview, that aims to stimulate discussion about potential ways forward.

Starting with an account of the evolution of civil society in Myanmar, it goes on to analyse the roles and functions of CSOs in the country’s peacebuilding efforts using a scholarly framework devised by Thania Paffenholz. Next, it presents case studies of CSOs that give a close-up view of some of the work going on across Myanmar.

We hope this Discussion Paper will be a stepping stone to a broader conversation, and we warmly invite your questions and feedback: