Sustaining Myanmar's Transition
After more than half a century of brutal, debilitating military rule, Myanmar is in the process of a calculated top-down course reversal, which has unleashed a bottom-up awakening of political, economic, and civil society activity. In a show of just how far the country has come, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein met President Barack Obama at the White House in May. The last time such a visit occurred was during the Lyndon Johnson administration. The trip followed Mr. Obama's visit to Myanmar — the first by a sitting U.S. president — last November.
The transition underway in Myanmar has emerged as one of the most promising efforts at democratization in the world today. But from now until the country’s next general election in 2015, Myanmar’s reform leaders will face a range of consequential decision points that will test their capacity and resolve. Among the most urgent priorities are developing effective policies for minority equality, instilling social and religious tolerance across Myanmar’s diverse society, creating jobs for the vast majority of the population who live in poverty, continuing to transform the military's political and economic roles, rooting out entrenched corruption, and firmly establishing the rule of law.
Join us as Asia Society brings together experts to assess the progress and challenges of Myanmar’s reform process and think through ways forward for U.S.-Myanmar relations. The discussion will coincide with the launch of a new Asia Society paper on these issues, co-authored by Priscilla Clapp, former Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar, and Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society’s Vice President of Global Policy Programs. The report draws on the authors’ recent visit to Myanmar that included consultations with parliamentarians, senior government officials, President Thein Sein’s advisors, business and civil society leaders, activists, and journalists.
U Kyaw Tin is the Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations. Prior to this, he was Myanmar’s Ambassador to Canada, and Director-General and Deputy Director-General of the Political Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has served in various roles at the UN Mission in New York, as well as in Indonesia, Switzerland, Thailand, and Australia.
Ike Reed is Director for Mainland Southeast Asia at the U.S. Department of State. He previously served as Coordinator for Pacific Initiatives in the Office of Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Affairs; as Special Advisor in the International Security Assistance Force military command in Kabul, Afghanistan; and as Economic-Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore. He was also Director for Southeast Asia at the National Security Council.
Priscilla Clapp is a retired Minister-Counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service. During her 30-year career with the U.S. government, she served as Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Refugee Programs, among other positions. She is a Senior Advisor to Asia Society.
Suzanne DiMaggio is Vice President of Global Policy Programs at Asia Society, where she leads the Society’s U.S.-Myanmar Initiative. She is directing the establishment of the Asia Society Policy Institute, an independent, non-partisan, global institute focused on tackling the critical political and economic issues facing Asia and the United States in the 21st century. The Institute will be launched in October 2013.