Institut du fédéralisme
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Federalism, Regionalism and Decentralisation - design and operation of multi-level systems and subnational good governance

Training for Senior Level Civil Service Members in Phaung Gyi, Myanmar, 26-20 September 2016

The Institute of Federalism was invited to conduct a training session for 53 senior civil service members of the Union Civil Service Board (UCSB) in Phaung Gyi, Myanmar. The 5-day training session was organised by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Myanmar, in collaboration with the UCSB. Dr. Rekha Oleschak-Pillai, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Federalism acted as resource person along with Dr. Soeren Keil, Christchurch University, Canterbury.

Myanmar stands today at historical crossroads, after the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference organised by the new government of Myanmar under the leadership of Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in August 2016, the country is steadily moving towards peace and reconciliation. After decades of military rule and ethnic conflict, the peace-building agenda accentuates as one of the key points, the introduction of a federal state.

The training for civil servants was aimed at raising awareness of federalism in Myanmar and on the strengths and weaknesses of a federal structure. While federalism is discussed heatedly, there is a gap in understanding of what federalism means. One perception of federalism that seems to prevail is that it encourages and leads to secession. After intense discussions, it started to emerge that as such federalism does not lead to secession. Participants also reflected that at a historic moment, where several Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) have agreed to a lay down their arms on the basis that federalism would be a topic of discussion, there needs to be more awareness raising of what federalism means. Participants discussed the current challenges the country faces and the main priorities for the coming years.

The training sessions consisted of presentations on comparing constitutions, basic concepts and principles of federalism, institutions and competences, fiscal federalism and forms of power sharing. In group discussions and presentations, participants examined the Constitution of Myanmar of 2008, the importance of fundamental rights, how power sharing on a federal basis could be designed in the context of Myanmar and on equitable resource sharing.