There is a two-way interaction between Myanmar’s national-level political conflict and local conflict in Kachin and northern Shan. The dynamics of the peace process exacerbate old tensions between communities, while localized violence and unresolved intercommunity grievances help harden attitudes towards prospects for negotiated peace. By working to improve social cohesion and supporting existing dispute resolution mechanisms, the Durable Peace Programme reduces the prospects for local conflicts to result in localised violence and contributes to an enabling social environment for the peace process as it relates to Kachin and northern Shan.
The experience of the first phase of the DPP showed that there were significant unforeseen challenges in trying to directly connect IDP populations to an unpredictable peace process outside of the programme’s control. As such, rather than try to engage with the process directly, the second phase of the DPP concentrates on supporting the development of more effective ‘Track 2’ capacities within Kachin and northern Shan, who have the networks and influence to engage with the peace process, no matter what it’s future course. In this regard, community level research and voices are connected with Track 2 actors, which is regarded as an effective and realistic means of feeding community perspectives into the broader formal peace process mechanisms. Furthermore, a lack of awareness and understanding of the conflicts in Kachin and northern Shan amongst both the broader Myanmar public and some parts of the international community undermines prospects for widespread popular support for negotiated peace in Myanmar and can at times obscure critical analysis of the way the peace process is supported. DPP produces analysis and communications to address these shortcomings, which also foregrounds the specific gender dimensions of the conflict and promotes women’s participation and influence.