Myanmar's national level peace talks, known as the Union Peace Conference, to convene in Naypyitaw on Aug. 31 will almost certainly be a symbolic success. Nearly all the country's myriad "ethnic armed organizations" will be there, both those who signed and many who did not sign last October's Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. The military's commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing will attend, as will State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of the new government and the conference's principal architect. There will be a supporting cast of hundreds, from across Myanmar's political spectrum, as well as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
No one expects the conference, scheduled to last five days, to achieve a break-through. But the symbolism is in itself important and underlines a real desire on all sides to bring about a peaceful settlement following almost seven decades of violent conflict. No ethnic armed organization is promoting secession and the idea of a federal system of government, long advocated by ethnic minority leaders, is no longer hotly contested. Aung San Suu Kyi's national and international stature can be a singular asset to any process going forward. The time is ripe for peace.