Day Four. Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Today the discussion focuses on Code of Conduct (COC) and joint monitoring of ceasefires.
It takes some time because some of the clauses reportedly agreed between the two sides earlier have to be negotiated again. The reason, I’m told later, is that the military representatives were not present during the December meeting.
Fortunately, they are able to reach mutual agreement that the COC would be drafted and the Joint Monitoring committee (JMC) formed within one month following the signing of NCA.
The day however isn’t without a hitch. The two sides argue over the UPWC proposal that the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) and the Joint Union Peace Dialogue Committee (JUPDC) to be formed after the NCA signing should be placed under the NCA.
As to be expected, the NCCT devotes its time frowning over the proposal. “How can we be supervised by a piece of paper?” asks one of them. “Haven’t we already agreed to set up a Joint Union Peace Implementation Committee (JUPIC) during the last meeting?”
What has happened, as I’m to learn later, is that the NCCT had proposed earlier that a top level JUPIC be formed to oversee the JMC and the JUPDC. The UPWC had countered it by proposing that the JUPIC be placed under the 11 men Union Peacemaking Central Committee (UPWC) led by the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Understandably, the NCCT re-countered it with a No Way response.
The result of the see-saw debate is what takes place today.
Today’s session ends with agreement to find a better alternative to the inanimate NCA as the peace steward.
The evening is spent talking to a young, energetic activist from Shan State, who is working on a program to train more people as ceasefire monitors. “Chins and Kachins are ready,” he says. “The Shan State, the biggest, isn’t yet.”
He is also one of the staunch opponents against the megadams on the Salween. “One-third of the State (around 50,000 square kilometers) will be submerged,” he tells me. “How could we let this happen without them letting us know what we are up against?”