On 4 April 2019, EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt launched the European Strategy for a Strengthened Partnership with Civil Society in Myanmar. The new strategy is a follow up to the “EU Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society in Myanmar (2014-2017)” and seeks to support the creation of an enabling environment for civil society to participate in policymaking and policy implementation processes at the local and national levels, according to a statement.
In his opening speech, Ambassador Schmidt said: “Myanmar has taken a bold decision to become a full democracy. To reach this ambitious goal, support from civil society is critical. It allows the inclusion of wider aspirations and ensures that the voices and needs of the people are heard. For a country with Myanmar’s history and current challenges, it is particularly important to give civil society the necessary space to promote equality, justice, fairness and peace.”
The European Strategy for a Strengthened Partnership with Civil Society in Myanmar will be implemented over the next two years. To this end, the European Union will organise Structural Dialogues in Yangon and various regions in the country Myanmar, compile research on key issues raised by civil society, and provide a communication and outreach platform for civil society organisations (CSOs), including a CSO newsletter and Facebook page.
The launch event brought together over 120 representatives of Myanmar civil society, including organisations from different regions in Myanmar, as well as representatives of international organisations and EU member states. Participants reviewed the current trends impacting civil society and explored possible next steps to overcome challenges. The panel session focused on navigating the future, and the role of civil society in building a democracy.