EBO was established in 1997 with support from the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), and the Burmese democracy movement.
EBO's model is to strengthen and develop existing mechanisms and fill gaps where necessary. EBO rarely implements projects of its own, but supports projects and activities which are within its objectives towards peace and national reconciliation. Projects are proposed and run by the stakeholders of the communities involved.
EBO's activities have evolved over time; these include:
activities of ebo
- Strategic analyses, policy briefings and recommendations and news updates
- Support for intra- and inter-ethnic political consultations to resolve conflicts (principally through the former National Reconciliation Programme - NRP)
- Support for broad-based political infrastructures to develop common strategies and priorities (principally through the NRP)
- Support for a primary database to enable the planning of a comprehensive human resources development programme
- Support for internships and capacity building programmes
- Support for media and information projects
priority target groups of ebo
- Political parties, political activists and organisations
- Civil society and community-based organisations
- The international community especially the United Nations and relevant governments
Within each of the groups identified, the EBO has paid special attention to disenfranchised communities, in particular, women, youth, ethnic minorities and religious minorities.
the national reconciliation programme
The National Reconciliation Programme (NRP) was a long running EBO programme from 1999 to 2010. It was establised in order to facilitate and promote tri-partite dialogue and to build a sustainable democracy. Tri-partite dialogue to resolve Burma's problems was called for by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994. Tri-partite dialogue dialogue means dialogue between the military government, the democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities of Burma. The military with its command structure could, if it so wanted, readily represent its interests in any dialogue. Aung San Suu Kyi and the 1990 election winning parties clearly had a mandate to represent Burmese democracy advocates. However, there were no institutions with the authority or mandate to negotiate on behalf of the widely-dispersed and diverse disenfranchised ethnic communities in Burma.
The UN resolution had created the opportunity fto find political solutions through non-confrontational ways. Hence, EBO saw the need to support this process of national reconciliation through dialogue, confidence building and political negotiations.
In April 1999, Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) received a grant from the Canadian Peace-building Fund to work on ethnic reconciliation. EBO met with CLWR to formalise the structure of the NRP. The programme grew with the support of Danida through the Danish Burma Committee and the Irish government through Trocaire.
To broaden the participation of ethnic nationalities in the reconciliation activities and to formalise the structure, a consultation was held between NCUB and other ethnic leaders. As a result, the NRP Facilitating Team (FT) was official formed with 12 members in May 1999. Later the Facilitating Team became known as the Programme Committee.
The National Reconciliation Programme (NRP) was therefore conceived to help the traditionally disenfranchised communities in Burma prepare for meaningful participation in the tri-partite negotiations to establish democratic governance in Burma although, in reality, all Burmese were disenfranchised when the military took power in 1962.
Concretely, the NRP has funded many projects which focus on dialogue and trust building and political negotiations. By creating the environment for a consensus at the domestic level, NRP activities facilitated collaboration to such an extent that the need for an organisation in which different ethnic groups could meet and negotiate became apparent. The cooperation among ethnic nationalities has led to the creation of the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC). ENC was created with the mandate to represent seven states which represent 40% of the population and live on 60% of the land area.