If Shans have something to be proud of, this is it. On 15-17 October 2013, 8 of the groups met in Chiangmai and agreed to form the Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU). The principal aim: To act as a common voice for the people of Shan State in the ongoing peace process.
The groups are:
- Shan State Joint Action Committee (a coalition of Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army, and Shan State Militia Force)
- Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP)
- Restoration Council of Shan State/ Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA)
- Shan CBOs
- Tai Youth Organization
- Shan Lawyers Network
- New Generation Shan State
- Tai National Association Thailand
Since then, they have already met twice, the first time was on 2-4 October 2014, when they agreed on the 12 guiding principles:
1.) To practice decentralized administrative system
2.) Shan State’s sovereignty derives from its people
3.) Resolution of political issues by political means
4.) Equality among Shan State nationalities and protection of minority rights
5.) Promotion of human rights and women’s rights (plus children’s rights)
6.) Multi-party democracy
8.) The right to defend the security of the state
9.) Independent judiciary
11.)For all Shan State nationalities to perpetually share the good and bad times together
12.)Shan State’s natural resources, above-and underground,, above-and under water, and in space belong to the people of Shan State
The second time was on 25-27 February 2015, when they adopted the CSSU charter, the draft of which was drawn and distributed for comments and suggestions six months earlier.
The main features of the 10 chapter charter which has 22 articles can be seen as follows:
4. Criteria for membership
4.1 An organization set up by Shan State nationalities
4.2 Recognition by all CSSU member organizations
4.3 Agreement to be bound and abide by the charter and carry out the obligations of membership
5.1 CSSU Summit shall comprise the chair persons/presidents or the leading bodies of the member organizations
5.2 CSSU Summit
a. Shall be the supreme policy making body of the CSSU
b. Shall deliberate and take decisions on issues pertaining to the implementation of CSSU objectives and matters of importance to member organizations
c. Shall deliberate and approve the progress report by the Secretary General
e. Shall appoint the Secretary General of CSSU
5.3 CSSU Summit shall be held twice annually and hosted by the member organization holding the CSSU chair
9. Decision-making shall be based on consultation and consensus.
12. The CSSU chair shall rotate annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of member organization
14. The motto of CSSU is: “Common Aim, Diverse Actions”
As can be discerned, the CSSU charter is comparable to that of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The reason is simple: A permanent chair proposal was turned down by some of the members. The logical consequence therefore was having a permanent Secretary General (whose term is yet to be determined).
One of the advisors to RCSS/SSA, Peunkham Payakwong , was unanimously confirmed as the first Secretary General.
The chair for the first year also went to the RCSS/SSA, as both the SNLD and the SNDP were going to have a busy year with the upcoming general elections.
Lt-Gen Yawdserk, the RCSS/SSA chair, during his closing speech, promised he would not be backing either side. “For myself and for all of us, the priority is the peace talks,” he said. “To be able to speak in one voice, we need unity and I will not do anything to impair the unity we have achieved this far.