Burma is making progress toward peace and political reform, although the process is fragile and the advances uncertain. The U.S. Institute of Peace since 2012 has worked to help make security institutions more inclusive and accountable, provided technical assistance to all elements in the peace process, and worked with religious leaders and communities to curb inter-communal and inter-religious tensions and violence. In addition, staff in USIP’s Washington and Yangon offices highlight important dynamics and pressures facing Burma for those following developments, and provide training for peacebuilders. Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on The Current Situation in Burma.
The United Wa State Army, a force of some twenty-thousand fighters, is the largest of Burma’s ethnic armed organizations. It is also the best equipped, boasting modern and sophisticated Chinese weaponry, and operates a formidable drug empire in the Golden Triangle region. This report examines the history of the Wa people, the United Wa State Army’s long-standing political and military ties to China, and the Wa’s role in Burma’s fragile peace process.
In late 2020, Myanmar will hold a general election for more than a thousand seats in Union, state, and regional legislative bodies. The next year and a half will also see two high-level, conflict-laden processes capture domestic and international attention—the 21st Century Panglong peace conference and possible attempts to repatriate Rohingya refugees. This report evaluates the environment in which the peace process, Rohingya repatriation, and the election intersect and identifies opportunities for mitigating conflict in the run-up to the election.
Burma’s natural resource economy is inextricably tied to the ongoing armed conflict within the country. Questions of who has what ownership rights over what resources and how these resources can be more equitably shared with the wider population loom large. This report focuses on Burma’s resource-rich ethnic states and territories near the borders with China and Thailand and suggests that a more robust, accountable, and equitable system for managing the country’s resource wealth can help lay down the pathways to peace.