NED project

Project Goals and Objectives

To empower the citizen to be politically aware of the democratic transition.

To monitor the on-going democratic transition by engaging in democratic constitutional reform by research-based recommendations and informed civic engagement.

Summary

Burma saw a first democratic government in this year. However, there are still undemocratic clauses in the constitution that cannot be amended by the consent of the hundred percent of the members of parliament. Since it is popularly elected, styles of advocacy and engagement is expected to be different from previous situations. More evidence-based or research-based recommendations and engagements have to be made.

Reflecting these needs, YSPS will empower citizens by providing trainings in Yangon and some parts of the country outside Yangon, which are tailored to the political circumstances. YSPS will invite international scholars and host them for public talks and seminars, the topics of which will reflect the needs of the country at the time. Those lectures and discussions will be published and circulated within the civil and political societies, so that they can have proper knowledge for strategic allocation of their resources in planning their activities to engage in the constitutional reform process. Those publications will become resources of YSPS for its further trainings and activities.

YSPS will also conduct research to produce policy papers. The most pressing research needs of Burma YSPS perceives now are the research on legislative and law reform for democracy, federalism with other component institutions for Burma for the pressing need of national reconciliation and peace, and citizenship law reform. YSPS planned to conduct a research on which laws should be cancelled, which amended or changed, and which new laws be passed.

Problem Statement

Burma is now more convincingly said to be undergoing a democratic transition with a more independent government led by National League for Democracy Party. However, there are many challenges that the new democratic government will have to address. Religious fanaticism, an unchecked military, and a significantly undemocratic constitution are just some of the problems facing the new leadership.

It is important that interested citizens have the right knowledge to be able to watch whether the government is moving in the right direction, and to meaningfully and effectively engage in the constitutional reform process. Equally important is for the interested members of civil society and the political parties to get access to scholarly input so they can set priorities and efficiently channel their resources for advocacy and relevant strategies, imposing checks on the new government not to get astray from the vowed democratic path towards the genuine federal democratic state. The NLD’s commitment to democracy does not guarantee that it will successfully move only toward ‘high-quality’ democracy – we are expecting the legislatures will not be a real check on the executive, which makes citizen diligence all the more important.

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