The Ethnic Crises in Burma/Myanmar: 2010 and Beyond

Dilemmas & Opportunities for the International Community

2010 is set to become Burma's most important and defining year in two decades. A general election has been scheduled by the SPDC that could well determine the country's political landscape for another generation.

The opposition is divided on how to respond to the challenges the 2010 elections are posing. For many ethnic minority organisations the elections are the only political process in the country, which they feel cannot afford to ignore. These ethnic minority organisations also take a long term view on the elections, and ask the international community not to ignore and reject them because of their participation.

The challenges facing Burma's different ethnic groups and parties are complex. The polls and introduction of new system of government are creating a timeline that is forcing all ethnic stakeholders to assess their political positions. Throughout 2009-2010 tensions steadily rose, affecting political parties, ceasefire and non-ceasefire forces, religious-based groups and different community organisations. Equally critical, the ramifications of the 2010 election are unlikely to be political alone but have urgent consequences for the humanitarian and economic landscape.

The seminar aims at taking a close look at the most significant recent developments concerning ethnic conflict in Burma/Myanmar as well as the international community's dilemmas and possibilities to respond.

The seminar will be structured around four main sessions, each of them with a distinctive focus, but at the same time all related to the main questions of how the political situation in Burma/Myanmar is expected to develop in the near future, what its impact will be on the ethnic issues and how the international community could respond to these developments, especially concerning the opportunity to support demands and needs of ethnic groups in Burma/Myanmar.