International Humanitarian Law, Security Sector Governance and Leadership in Transition

The project aims to increase the capacities of middle-ranked officers of the Myanmar Defence Forces to (1) drive forward reforms which improve the adherence of the Myanmar Defence Forces to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, (2) to improve protection of civilians in armed conflict and (3) to support reforms towards democratic control of armed forces.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Conflict & fragility
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Security system management and reform
Protection, access & security
Reintegration and SALW control
15.03.2019 - 31.12.2019
CHF  200’000
Background Myanmar, a country that opened 7 years ago from 60 years of isolation and military ruled government started its transition to a democratic system only recently. On one side, several ongoing conflicts in the north-eastern part of the country, as well as in Rakhine hinder the country to reach durable peace and obtain democratic controlled defence forces. Several alleged abuses and violations of human rights by security forces have worsen the country’s image on the international scene. To tackle first impulsions of reforms and putting the army to international standards on human rights, international humanitarian law, as well as security sector governance, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, future leading officers must be exposed to these concept in an integrated manner. A generation of new decision makers needs to know how to handle them, be it internally, but also in peace negotiations with the ethnic armed groups, which might also benefit from courses in the future.
Objectives Increase the capacity of the Myanmar Defence Forces in driving change eventually leading to civilian control and contribute to the democratic transition as well as durable peace in Myanmar.
Target groups Officers of the Defence Forces with a potential of triggering reforms and being promoted for higher functions.
Medium-term outcomes

Strengthen future leading officers to engage in reform processes to modernise the army’s standards on International Humanitarian Law, rules of restraint in war and protection of civilians.

Deepened knowledge of the security sector good governance and leadership in transition will increase the army’s propensity to contribute constructively in peace negotiations and to drive reforms towards democratic governance of armed forces


Expected results:  

Participants are exposed to norms and standards of International Humanitarian Law, the roots of restraint in war and the protection of civilians, and learn tools and methodologies to implement necessary reforms within their organisation.

Knowledge of norms and standards of International Humanitarian Law as well as the strengthened personal relations will increase the willingness of operational commanders to allow their troops to be trained on these subjects.

The participants will gain better knowledge about conduct and rules of modern armies and about good governance of security actors.

Through strengthened dialogue and stronger personal relations, Switzerland obtains a better access to provide humanitarian aid and development cooperation in conflict affected areas.

Results from previous phases:   During the last two years, a selected range of participants from the defence forces, from the civilian government, as well as from ethnic organisations have been trained on security sector concepts, federalism and diversity management. These activities have opened the dialogue to propose a more targeted approach to deal with these subjects.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
Other International Organization
  • Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
  • Schweizerisches Arbeiterhilfswerk

Other partners
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Coordination with other projects and actors International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Joint Peace Fund (security sector reform initiatives and support to Joint Monitoring Committee), EU Myanmar Police Reform Project, Embassies of Australia and of Norway
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    200’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    170’408 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF   0 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   600’000