The working research paper on “International Actors in Myanmar’s Peace Process” written by Aung Thu Nyein, director of communication and outreach program of ISP-Myanmar is available to download from this link. The report launch is held on December 30, 2020. After final editing, the paper will be printed and book will be available to readers.
The international community has played an important role in supporting the peace process in Myanmar from the beginning, when the new government reached out to the ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) to initiate – in some cases renew– ceasefire negotiations in 2011. As the peace negotiation process has become protracted and even triggered new armed conflicts in some regions of the country, many international actors including donors have come to view Myanmar’s peace process with cynicism as if it is becoming “a process without peace”.
The surging COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a sense of peace fatigue, which has sapped attention and resources of the international community from Myanmar. Moreover, the magnitude of the Rohingya crisis and subsequent international interventions coupled with the growing geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China have distracted the attention away from efforts to end a seven-decade long civil war in Myanmar.
The National League for Democracy’s (NLD) landslide victory in the general elections held in November 2020 means that the party will likely form a government to serve a five-year term. NLD won 920 out of 1,117 total representatives in the state, regional, and national level parliaments, which is 82.36% of the seats Ethnic political parties strived hard in the elections, and their performance in the election fell short of expectations. The election results could produce further ethnic tensions and polarization, as voting behavior suggests that identity politics were salient issues in the election.
The election results will likely produce further ethnic tensions and polarization, as identity politics continue to play a role in electoral politics. The Union Election Commission disenfranchised several constituencies from holding elections citing security concerns. Many ethnic political parties indicate that the first-past-the-post voting system has weakened them by creating an uneven play field. For instance, ethnic Karens represent 6.7% of Myanmar’s population, but Karen political parties won only one seat (a candidate from Karen People Party). Different ethnic population makes 27.66% of the nation’s population, but ethnic political parties can make only 9.9% of seats in 2020 general elections out of 664 representatives in Union parliament. The situation could lead to anti-system sentiments and ethnic tensions, as elections don’t work for them. Moreover, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s Defense Services) has cited their concerns over voting irregularities, which is a new concerning development in civil-military relations. A landslide victory for a national party means super-majoritarian rule, weak checks-and-balances, and politically disincentive for political engagement by ethnic political parties. Together, these developments present further challenges for the peace process.
Although the Myanmar government claims the peace process is a “home-grown” effort, the increasingly assertive role of China and the escalation of armed conflicts in geo-strategically significant regions – such as Rakhine and Shan states – suggests that the stakeholders in the peace process do not have the capacity and perhaps even political will to pull it off on their own. This is a critical time for international actors to re-examine their roles, navigate, or even reset the nature, approach, and scope of their support for the peace process in Myanmar.
This research paper aims to map out and assess the roles of key international actors in Myanmar’s peace process. It also documents the impact of past international involvement in the process, analyzes possibilities for international actors to help revive or even reset the stalled peace process, and offers recommendations for where and how international support can be more effective in reaching its intended goals.
This paper also recommends a reconceptualization of the peace process as a “joint-venture”, rather than “home-grown”. The aim of this approach is to allow for international involvement in terms of normative contributions such as prevention of genocide and promotion of human rights, peace architecture construction, and peace aid.
 Citing security concerns, the Union Election Commission canceled elections in 15 entire townships in Rakhine and Shan states and in part of 42 townships in Karen, Mon, Shan, Rakhine, Chin states and Bago region, covering 1.5 million population from 675 wards and village-tracts. Refugees located in border areas, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh could not participate in the elections.
 The classification of ethnic population is a sensitive and controversial issue in Myanmar, as the government doesn’t release disaggregate data from the 2014 National Census. The data is taken from Pon Yate Ethnic Population Dashboard. Retrived from https://www.ponyate.org/ethnic-population-dashboard-740399e?fbclid=IwAR1BkWL7rq6HoJHHyjEVjYsZHrrBcdP8H3k4VsQz9nPK7fuc-qEYrj5cErg
 Zin, M. (November 23, 2020). Myanmar Still Loves Aung San Suu Kyi, but Not for the Reasons You Think, The New York Times, Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/opinion/myanmar-election.html