YANGON, Myanmar—On March 24 and 25, Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) and Reality of Aid Asia Pacific (ROA-AP) organized a two-day training workshop designed to introduce Aid and Development Effectiveness (ADE) and the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness to Burmese CSOs and non-local organizations participating at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF). The training came at a very critical point now that large amounts of Official Development Assistance (ODA) from Northern countries started pouring in the country after the period of military rule.
Seventeen (17) Yangon-based civil society organizations participated in the training on ADE and CPDE. There were also representatives from the government, European Commission (EC), UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the United National Development Programme (UNDP). Andy Benfield, a consultant from the EC, gave a background presentation on development cooperation in Myanmar by focusing on the NawPyi Taw Accord on Effective Development Cooperation, the outcome document of the first Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) in Myanmar. Erin Palomares, Coordinator of the ROA AP and CPDE AP Secretariat, gave presentations on ADE and the CPDE, while Jodel Dacara, Programme Officer for APRN, gave presentations on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment, as well as a detailed discussion on the Istanbul Principles, and how these could be used in Myanmar.
Participants of the said training signified their interest in working with the CPDE, and learning more about the Istanbul Principles. Leigh Mitchell, Policy Advisor to the government, said that they would find resources to have the Principles translated to local language for popularization and implementation. A mailing list was set up as first step for easier exchange of information and consolidation, especially in the run up to the DCF mid-year assessment in July. Both ROA-AP and APRN signified their interest to help Burmese CSOs in this process.
After turning down past opportunities, the government of the Union of Myanmar (otherwise known as Burma) has finally decided to chair the ASEAN for 2014. Myanmar will host two ASEAN Summits, one in May and the other in November. Parallel to the said summits are other high-level meetings which will be attended by ministers and head of states from the ten member-countries of the Association, as well as partner countries such as China, Japan and the United States.
In the run up to both Summits, over 3,000 representatives from civil society organizations, social movements and people’s organizations gathered inside the Myanmar Convention Center for the first ACSC/APF held in Yangon from March 21 to 23, 2014. This conference is said to be the largest undertaking for the ACSC/APF since its first conference was held in 2005. Myanmar ACSC/APF is also the tenth gathering of ASEAN civil society. The conference opened with speeches from Daw May May Pyone, chairperson of the ACSC/APF, and U Tin Oo, Patron of the National League for Democracy, who spoke on behalf of Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate and parliamentarian Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi. Representatives from the Office of the President of the Union, as well as the ASEAN Secretary General’s office welcomed the participants
The conference comprised of 5 plenary sessions and 35 workshops facilitated by local and regional organizations. At the end of the conference, participants produced a statement embodying the aspirations and recommendations of different groups and sectors in the region. The statement called on all governments to recognize the diversity of ASEAN people and develop mechanisms for protection of all human rights irrespective of religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identities and expressions, including intersex persons, ethnicity, race, occupation, political ideology and citizenship. The conference statement will be circulated among CSOs in the region, and forwarded to delegations, which will attend the ASEAN Summit in May. On April 10, the ACSC/APF Steering Committee met with the Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the CSO-government interface on May 11. According to the Steering Committee, the interface should revolve around the principles of meaningful dialogue, advancing people’s voices and advocacy, mutual respect and self-determination, the principles, which were upheld by the participants of the said conference.#
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