Ethnofederalism and the Accommodation of Ethnic Minorities in Burma: United They Stand
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA
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Recent reform in Burma has challenged the idea that democratic institutions and the 2008 Burmese Constitution are an empty facade for an authoritarian military government. Burmas minorities, which have been in conflict with the national government since independence in 1948, remain skeptical of recent reforms and continue to call for a return to Panglong, a 1947 agreement to provide autonomy and self-government for ethnic minority regions. Minority groups have consistently demanded federal institutions to protect their rights, and many scholars have advocated an ethnofederal accommodation of Burmas minorities. However, quasi-federal arrangements failed to accommodate ethnic demands during the country s first democratic period from 1947-62. To assess the possibility that recent reforms will be more successful, this thesis conducts a comparative study of institutional arrangements to protect minorities in the 1947 and 2008 constitutions. These arrangements are evaluated against the criteria for successful ethnofederal models, such as those offered by Alfred Stepan. Similarities between the initial democratic period and the current one do not inspire optimism, and evaluations using Stepan s criteria and variables further discredit the 2008 Constitution as the basis of a federal state. Peace between Burmas ethnicities does not completely rest upon the structures of government, but this thesis concludes that any such peace will not be a result of ethnofederalism based on the current Burmese Constitution.
- Government and Political Science
- Sociology and Law