For the first time since the latest attempt at negotiations on peace within the country were started in 2010, the majority of ethnic armed groups within the country have proposed an absolute prohibition on laying further mines.
From 20-25 January in Law Khee Lar, an area of Karen(Kayah) State controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU) a Conference of Ethnic Armed Resistance Organizations took place. Representatives of 17 ethnic armed groups met to discuss the framework of a nationwide ceasefire, which it was eventually able to do unanimously.
The January meeting followed one in Laiza the previous November which mandated an ethnic Nationwide Ceasefire Coordinating Team (NCCT).
The meeting produced a 28 page detailed proposal for a nationwide ceasefire, which has been presented by the NCCT to the Government of Myanmar’s negotiation team, the Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC).
The document serves as the basis for negotiations on a final ceasefire agreement which will be constructed by a joint project between the NCCT and the UPWC with a deadline of August 2014.
In the 4th Chapter on Military Affairs, of the NCCT proposal, the aggressive act of laying mines is prohibited, the transfer of mines, or transfer of mines to the frontline is prohibited, and joint mine clearance must commence.
In a much less ambiguously worded Annex mine clearance was a permitted act, and use of mines ‘under any circumstances’ was prohibited.
To date, this is only a proposal. Mine Free Myanmar is encouraged this clear proposal to prohibit mine use under any circumstances. It is hoped that this prohibition on use and movement of mines is included in the final document produced by the ceasefire working group.