Peacebuilding In Myanmar: A Case Study of State Influence on Civil Society in Karen State
Sammanfattning: Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been going through a democratization process since 2011, despite different stages of conflict in several regions. In Karen State the main ethnic armed group, has signed the National Ceasefire Agreement in 2015. With the democratization process came a lot of changes for civil society. The role of civil society has been subject of many studies, with most researchers acknowledging that that role is dependent on the environment in which civil society operates. An important actor in this environment is the state. This research aimed to get a better understanding of how the state influences civil society and the work it does. To do this, the case of Karen State in Myanmar was chosen. The research question of this thesis was as follows: How is the state influencing civil society and its functions in peacebuilding in Myanmar, specifically Karen State? To answer the research question, the research was conducted as a field study. An abductive approach was taken with the use of semi-structured interviews for qualitative data. To get comprehensive results, three types of organizations were interviewed: local CSOs, national CSOs and international CSOs. To analyse the results, two frameworks were used: the functions of civil society in peacebuilding according to Paffenholz and Spurk (2006) and the dimensions of the relationship of the state and civil society according to Müller (2006). The results show that civil society, in their view, is negatively influenced by the state. They are experiencing restrictions in performing some of their activities. The main worry for many of the organizations is the consequences of officially registering the organization. This requires giving up a lot of information to the government and makes them subject to influences from the state. Some other influences were the restriction of some activities, with even people getting arrested for their advocacy work. Collectively civil society is getting weaker, as the civil government is creating a divide in civil society with organizations that support them and organizations that are critical. Future research must go deeper into the influence of different state actors, and how each actor influences civil society in its own way.
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