Advancing Myanmar's Transition: A Way Forward for U.S. Policy

Published in February 2012, Advancing Myanmar’s Transition: A Way Forward for U.S. Policy assesses the nature of the political and social changes that are under way in Myanmar and the challenges and vulnerabilities the country faces. The report recommends measures that the U.S. should take to encourage, support, and advance the institutionalization of sustainable democracy in Myanmar.

Key measures highlighted by the authors included:

  • Empowering the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to help Myanmar’s leaders with macroeconomic reform and economic development strategy
  • Providing a rapid infusion of assistance to higher education and technical training to fill the capacity gaps created by the decades of neglect and the deliberate dismantling of Myanmar’s higher educational institutions
  • Providing advisory assistance to support the policy and legislative reforms that are under way
  • Responding positively to requests from Myanmar’s parliament for inter-parliamentary exchanges and discussions to help the country develop effective structures and procedures to strengthen the legislative branch
  • Urgently addressing the myriad financial sanctions on Myanmar to ensure that they are not working at cross-purposes with public and private assistance efforts
  • Coordinating donor activities to avoid overwhelming Myanmar’s weak institutions with a plethora of duplicative assistance programs

Advancing Myanmar’s Transition is the result of an Asia Society delegation’s January 2012 visit to Myanmar to engage in a Track II dialogue with the Myanmar Development Resource Institute, a newly created, independent think tank based in Yangon. This informal dialogue sought to establish an ongoing channel of communication between experts from both countries and to explore opportunities to advance U.S.–Myanmar relations during a particularly fluid and fragile period of transition in Myanmar.

The report was co-authored by Priscilla Clapp, former Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Burma (1999–2002), and Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Vice President of Global Policy Programs. The group participating in the dialogue included specialists in the areas of political affairs, rule of law, democracy building, economic development, and environmental sustainability. In addition to the Track II meetings, the group held in-depth discussions with senior government officials; business leaders; members of civil society; representatives from the National League for Democracy (NLD), including Aung San Suu Kyi; and a wide array of community activists, including minority nationalities.