Spoiling under the influence : the narcotics trade as a serious threat to Myanmar's nationwide ceasefire process?
Linka, Tim (2015)
Master's Programme in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research
Yhteiskunta- ja kulttuuritieteiden yksikkö - School of Social Sciences and Humanities
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Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
This thesis deals with the role of opium as a conflict resource in the Myanmar civil war. It poses the question whether some actors have developed an interest in deliberately prolonging the conflict because they perceive war as more profitable than peace. The topic has been chosen because there is little to be found in the literature which influence opium has had on the longevity and intensity of the conflicts in Myanmar. The thesis therefore aims to shed light on some of the actors and structures which are connected to the narcotics trade and investigates whether some actors sabotage or have incentives to sabotage the Nationwide Ceasefire Process (NCA) that is still ongoing. The thesis uses the concept of spoilers in peace processes to analyze the conflict. The method is framed by using theories on the role of natural resources on civil wars and on shadow and war economies and black markets. The thesis also makes references to peace and conflict research concepts such as structural violence. The data used comes from five expert interviews, reports by for example the UNODC and the Transnational Institute (TNI), academic literature and news resources. The study found that currently nobody engaged in the narcotics trade has an interest ins sabotaging the NCA for several reasons, one is that a potential ceasefire is unlikely to affect the opium business at all. On the contrary, many former insurgent groups' drug trade activities have started to thrive since they agreed to a ceasefire with the government. This means that a ceasefire, understood as a form of negative peace in this thesis, is perceived more profitable than continued warfare. The NCA might be still threatened by actors because of other reasons, especially political ones. Spoilers might still emerge in the future. The study results point towards other areas, especially the conflict potential of other natural resources such as gemstones and timber as well as to the political reasons for spoiling.