Karen Community Based Organisations’ Position on Peace Funds

Statement by KCBOs regarding Peace Funds in Burma (July 2012)

Karen Community Based Organisations’ Position on Peace Funds
24th July, 2012
The undersigned Karen community-based organisations working on relief, education, healthcare, women’s rights, human rights, youth development, environmental protection, community development , and sustainable livelihood, among other issues, are concerned about the current lack of transparency and community involvement in the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI). We are grateful that Norway has shown concern and a willingness to try to help move peace forward here. We are asking for improvements so this Initiative can make the type of contribution in that effort that everyone wants it to.
We are fully committed to peace in Burma. Peace funds are not a substitute for and should not undermine a comprehensive peace process. We believe that Peace Funds that are transparent, accountable, and have the informed participation of both local communities and community-based organisations working across a range of sectors can help advance our shared agenda for peace in Burma. The MPSI has, to date, failed to meet those standards. For example, failure to consult local communities has resulted in infrastructure development being targeted at areas villagers do not want to relocate, because they will be unable to access their agricultural land. CBO’s were not given adequate information nor opportunity to be legitimately consulted regarding the MPSI. Given those problems, we ask MPSI and other proponents of donor-driven peace funds not to undermine our peace process, but rather to move to a more inclusive and transparent process. MPSI should not take shortcuts or sow division within our leadership and our community in a bid to rush the deployment of funds. We understand your sense of urgency, but this process is too fragile to easily survive major mistakes that can be avoided.
We call on the MPSI and other peace fund proponents to:
1. Stop their current activities for long enough to review their process and procedures for implementation.
2. Immediately release the fund design documents including the local languages translations. These documents should include sector targets, criteria, plans, etc.
3. Issue clear rationales for how each of the projects supported by the funds will contribute to conflict resolution.
4. Develop and release project risk analysis and mitigation, and ensure that accessible monitoring and accountability mechanisms are in place.
5. Develop and execute a robust consultation strategy both with local community members and with community-based organisations.

Contact person:
Saw Albert: + 66 821625199
Nan Dah Eh Kler: + 66 857269291

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About Karen Women Organisation

The Karen Women Organisation was formed in 1949 and has a membership of over 64,100 women. KWO is a community-based organisation of Karen women working in development and relief in the refugee camps on the Thai border and with IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and women inside Burma. Since our formation in 1949 we have expanded our focus from one of purely social welfare to try to encourage an awareness of Women's Rights and to promote women’s participation in the community decision making and political processes. The objectives of the KWO  To assist women in the endeavour to be free from all forms of oppression.  To promote and empower women in all spheres of life, including education and general living standards.  To encourage women to participate in the struggle for freedom, democracy and equality.  To develop women's knowledge, ability and skills, including political and organizational skills.  To achieve the rights of women and equal status with men.  To promote and maintain Karen culture and traditions.  To improve the well-being of women and children and to increase their access to adequate health, education and welfare services. KWO aims to empower women through offering various capacity building trainings to teach skills, build confidence and create new opportunities so that women will be better able to solve problems. We are working hard to educate ourselves and our communities so that we can work more effectively and advocate for our struggle on the international stage. We believe that women’s contribution is an essential factor in the peace-building and national reconciliation processes of Burma.