9 October 2018
Youths from universities will organize the first Model Union Peace Conference (simulation) in November in Yangon.The model UPC led by youths aims to familiarize youths with the peace process as well as to contribute, to certain degree, to the peace process, which is criticized to be going backwards.
Some express concern over the simulation conference led by youths as the youths do not actually represent the involving community and thus raising doubts on the effectiveness of the conference.
For that, Ko Saung Wunna, a spokesperson for the Model UPC, explains, “We have formed the 7 committees to make systematic arrangements. And with the technical and financial support from Plan international and Myanmar Institute of Peace and Security, we will be doing this properly. We will be properly requesting permission from the ministry as we are aware that events like this are often cancelled as they didn’t properly ask permission from authority. And really to be able to represent the involving community and ethnic groups, we will equip the participants representing them with necessary information and factors that they will need in negotiating with each other. Trainings from respective organizations will be given so that the participants are educated with real negotiation skills. And we are collecting as many data from the actual union peace conference as possible so that we can completely simulate the actual UPC essence.”
The committee for the model Union peace conference is composed of 73% women and 27% men.
Concerning the gender composition of the committee, favoring the women quota, Ko Saung Wunna also added, “The committee members for the model UPC are of 73% women while there are barely 30% of women in the actual union peace conference. We include more women… first this is to empower women and welcome participation of smart women in this important issue. And we all are confident in our women participants’ ability and potential.”
Two organizations named Plan International and Myanmar Institute for Peace and Security (MIPS) support this model UPC.
First, MIPS Executive Director Dr. Min Zaw Oo commented, “We believe that youths participation in peace process is vital and we welcome youths’ participation in the process. We also have a plan to give technical support for the conference. I believe this will be very useful as it is critical for youths to get to understand what peace process is and what needs to be careful when making negotiations and what are the challenges… so it will better prepare them for the future when the time comes to really discuss peace… it will be more effective if they can actually involve in the simulation event of the peace effort and negotiations.”
Next, this is the opinion shared by Mr.Kelly Stevenson, the country director of Plan International,” We think it’s an important initiative to bring youth together from around the country to discuss issues around peace and national reconciliation to engage in a proper simulation which gives them skills and experience and analogy about how the formal processes work here in Myanmar.”
The conference will be recruiting 80 youth representatives from around the country and the online application is open now on the facebook page and website of the model UPC.
Ma Thazin Aung, one of the organizing committee members said, “The applicants will be chosen based on the three essay type questions. The questions are about what makes one a strong fit to participant in model UPC and another question will be based on how one understands federalism and so on.”
The first ever model UPC will run on November 19th-24th at National Reconciliation and Peace Centre (NRPC) in Yangon.