Burma's Forgotten Frontline: the Dilemmas of Ethnic Politics, Self-Determination and Democratic Governance (The Case Study of Kachin).
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School. Abstract: No one can talk about Myanmar or Burma today without referring to unprecedented democratic, social and economic reform. Myanmar is at an historic stage in its development. Following adoption of a new Constitution in May 2008, parliamentary elections were held in November 2010 a... read morend by-elections contested in April 2012. The transition to civilian rule under the new Constitution was the first step in an on-going series of rapid and far-reaching political and economic reforms. The country now faces the challenge of advancing the unification of multi-nations within the state, and establishing rule of law, access to justice, and political power redistribution while simultaneously maintaining economic stability and democratic values. This research paper will examine the ethnic conflict and self-determination of the Kachin ethnic group in the last fifty years and its future. The paper is structured into three broad sections. First, it deals with the Kachin’s group identity construction through a historical perspective during the pre and post-colonial period. Second, it explores ways in which international law and its traditional interpretation might respond to self-determination, minority rights and indigenous rights in Kachin’s context and how the peace process is being negotiated with the government. It also will explore the question why territorial autonomy and federalism is a hard question partly because it is all parties’ second choice positioning in the middle between the government unionist and the ethnic secessionist. Third, it draws challenges of their claims whether it is de jure and de facto feasible in political realities by examining the 2008 Myanmar constitution and its governance structures. It aims to explain why autonomy arrangement in paper alone is not a magic wand and does not necessary meaningful for justice and equality. Finally, the paper tries to come up with futuristic forecast and solution of the conflict in the last section.read less