FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2019
Yangon – The U.S. Embassy is hosting the Yangon Federalism Symposium at American Center Yangon May 30-June 1. This Symposium is the fourth forum of its kind which brings together members of government, military, ethnic organizations, political leaders, and civil society to explore what a federalist system could look like. Participants in the Federalism Symposia use a simulation model to better understand how federalism can work in practice.
“We are supporting this program because we seek to be a good friend to the people of Myanmar who want to achieve greater peace and prosperity,” Ambassador Scot Marciel said when he spoke to the Symposium participants and other civil society and political leaders during a May 30 opening reception. He noted that federalist models around the world are based on geography, not ethnicity, and on the principle that people living together have the same rights and a common set of interests. “Federalism is not only a concern for ethnic minorities,” he added.
“The U.S. model of federalism has been developing for more than 200 years,” Deputy Chief of Mission George Sibley said at the Symposium opening yesterday, adding, “we hope you can learn from our experiences and from our mistakes.”
Faculty from the University of Wisconsin designed the curriculum used in the Symposia so that diverse groups could build a shared vocabulary around federalism in Myanmar. The first three U.S.-Embassy sponsored Federalism Symposia took place in Nay Pyi Taw in 2017 and 2018 and in Mandalay in February 2019. Almost 200 people have participated in the four events.
These events are one way that the United States supports an exchange of ideas about federalism in Myanmar. The U.S. Embassy has sent leaders of different sectors involved in the peace process to the U.S. to build connections and share ideas about federalism. In Mandalay and Yangon, more than 180 civil society and political leaders have benefited from U.S.-funded Institute for Political and Civic Engagement (IPACE) courses on federalism. American speakers, including Ambassador Marciel, have led discussions on federalist systems at the Yangon Region Parliament and at universities around the country. USAID has also worked with NGOs and civil society organizations to provide educational materials and training to approximately 5,000 people across Myanmar on the practical implications of federalism in Myanmar.
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