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Research Papers

Sen, B. K. "Session and Self-Determination in the Context of Burma’s Transition," Burma Lawyer Council 10 (2001).
Summary: The author of the article "The Panglong Spirit Lives On" (Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe in The Irrawaddy, July 2001) argued that the guiding principle of the Panglong Accord is "unity in diversity". He raised the question as to whether there is a formula for ending Burma's decades of ethnic strife, and answered it himself with "Yes, and it is none other than the political vision that brought modern Burma into existence half a century ago". This is begging the question: what is this political vision, which is abstract in terms of people's understanding? The meaning of terminology such as "unity in diversity" is academically attractive, but in the understanding of the activists it helps little. However, Yawnghwe retrieved much of the ground lost in the struggle evolving a viable concept for the establishment of a stable Burma by stating that the major goal is the establishment of a democratic, federal Union of Burma, to be composed of self-determining states living together in equality and peace. It is argued that core issues must be addressed, and the debate has to be brought to a fruitful end.
Southalan, Louise. "Issues of Self-determination in Burma," Burma Lawyers’ Council 5 (2000).
Summary: This paper seeks to provide an introduction to the concept of self-determination, and to suggest the importance of this concept in Burma. A comprehensive analysis of either topic is beyond the scope of this paper, which is aimed at readers without great familiarity with either area. Suggestions for further reading may be found in the references. The paper begins by discussing the concept of self-determination, and its varied meanings. A brief history of the development of the concept follows, in which the meaning of self-determination beyond decolonisation is touched upon. The situation of minorities within a state is then considered. The second section of the paper is a discussion of the particular case of Burma.


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