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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06RANGOON154 2006-02-07 00:58:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rangoon
Cable title:  

GOB PLANS DRACONIAN REGULATIONS FOR UN/NGOS

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PREL EAID BM 
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STATE FOR EAP/MLS; PACOM FOR FPA
CORRECTED COPY - INFO ADDRESSES

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL EAID BM
SUBJECT: GOB PLANS DRACONIAN REGULATIONS FOR UN/NGOS

REF: A. RANGOON 138


B. RANGOON 93

C. RANGOON 79

RANGOON 00000154 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: P/E Chief W. Patrick Murphy for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)



1. (C) Summary: The Burmese regime plans invasive new
guidelines increasing its control over UN agencies and NGOs
and further restricting the delivery of international
assistance. If implemented, the draconian regulations would
assign GOB ministries sweeping authority, including oversight
of all UN and NGO hiring, travel, and financial transactions.
While the GOB feigns a desire to coordinate assistance more
efficiently, the real motive appears to be entirely
political, including the granting of extra powers to the
regime's notorious mass-member "civic" organizations. The
GOB's latest efforts to restrict international organizations
are far more comprehensive than previous attempts. Even if
UN agencies and INGOs find a compromise, the regime has now
broadened its climate of fear to encompass the international
organizations. End Summary.



2. (SBU) The GOB's Ministry of National Planning and Economic
Development has convoked all UN agencies and international
NGOs to a "coordination" meeting on February 7. According to
Embassy sources, the GOB will use the meeting to announce a
new set of comprehensive and invasive guidelines governing
the activities of all UN agencies and INGOs operating in
Burma.



3. (C) On February 3, GOB officials distributed a "draft" of
the new guidelines to UN and INGO representatives. Embassy
contacts among the international assistance community are
uncertain whether the GOB is willing to negotiate the new
guidelines, but the UN agencies and INGOs have steeled
themselves for what they expect to be a one-way lecture on
February 7, not an opportunity to exchange views with GOB
officials.



4. (SBU) If implemented, the "draft" guidelines would
drastically impair the delivery of humanitarian and
development assistance inside Burma. Although the GOB
describes its new guidelines as necessary for coordination
and long-term development planning, the draft document also
reveals the GOB's political motives by stating they are
designed "to prevent by all means those who try to jeopardize
State sovereignty" and "to make the world know, through
international organizations, the true situation in Myanmar."



5. (SBU) The draft guidelines, which we obtained from NGO
sources, also make clear the regime's intention to control
and closely monitor the activities of all UN agencies and
INGOs. In addition to a myriad of bureaucratic mazes that
aid organizations already must navigate to implement
projects, the guidelines would establish several new
operating requirements, including:

--All project proposals must be in line with the GOB's
"overall objectives," which include the political goals cited
above in para 4;

--UN agencies and INGOs must recruit all of their local staff
from lists provided by GOB ministries;

--GOB ministries must approve the hiring of all expatriate
staff;

--The Ministry of Planning will assign a liaison officer to
accompany any visiting UN and INGO staff on their domestic
travel;

--UN agencies and INGOs must submit visa applications for all

RANGOON 00000154 002 OF 002


"expatriate consultants" six weeks ahead of their travel;

--All donor organizations must open an account with the
Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and transfer all funding to that
account. The organizations may withdraw funds only in
non-convertible FECs (Foreign Exchange Certificates);

--The GOB prohibits organizations from conducting research or
publishing material that it has not specifically approved.



6. (SBU) The GOB's intention to create new "State and
Division Coordination Committees" may be the most troubling
new development for UN agencies and INGOs. Various GOB
representatives will head the local committees, but
membership will also include officials of the GOB's most
notorious mass-member organizations: the Union Solidarity and
Development Association (USDA), the Women's Affairs
Federation, and the Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare
Association (MMCWA).



7. (SBU) According to the draft guidelines, the local
"Coordination Committees" will have sweeping powers,
including the authority to approve domestic travel of
expatriate UN and INGO staff and the right to monitor
projects to "ensure that activities do not fall outside the
scope of work."

COMMENT: NO FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES



8. (C) Several INGO sources, who have worked in Burma since
the early 1990s, tell us that the GOB has attempted to impose
several of these restrictions at different times over the
past decade. UN agencies and INGOs have actually found
creative solutions to ignore or to work around most
restrictions, in some cases by enlisting the support of
sympathetic generals or senior government officials. These
same INGO veterans, however, tell us that the current
smothering environment of draconian restrictions is without
precedence. As the noose gets tighter, senior level patrons
increasingly lack the will or capacity to defend the good
work of international organizations in Burma.



9. (C) UN agencies and INGOs also tell us that they would
find it impossible to function under the GOB's new
guidelines, if implemented. The GOB may insist on the
tighter restrictions or it may back down in the face of
widespread protest or non-compliance by the aid
organizations. Regardless, the regime has broadened a
climate of fear felt by the general population to encompass
international organizations. An unnerving mood of
uncertainty and apprehension has settled among local UN and
INGO staff as they contemplate a grimmer future. As the
regime demonstrated in restricting the Global Fund to the
point that project managers terminated the program, the
welfare of the Burmese people comes second to generals' need
to control all aspects of public life. End Comment.
VILLAROSA