In February 2021, Burma erased 10 years of progress toward political reform after the military took power in a coup. Since the coup, the military has created an environment of constant chaos and terror, killing scores of protesters, and waging a war against the Burmese people, who refuse to be subjected once again to brutal military rule. Since 2012, the U.S. Institute of Peace has worked with communities in Burma to curb intercommunal tensions and violence and support stakeholders looking to end decades of civil war and oppression. In addition, USIP’s Burma program provides timely research and analysis on conflict dynamics in Burma for practitioners, policymakers and observers in Burma and abroad.
Learn more in USIP’s fact sheet on The Current Situation in Burma.
This week, Indonesia hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and its related meetings with dialogue partners, including the East Asia Summit, in Jakarta. The three-day affair was bogged down by the bloc’s continued inability to sort through internal divisions over member-state Myanmar’s 2021 military coup, which has allowed the ruling junta’s violence and support for criminal enterprises to fester into transnational problems. Meanwhile, the absence of several leaders from major ASEAN partners, such as China’s Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden, further dampened proceedings.
Are conciliatory winds stirring among the leaders of Myanmar’s coup regime, or is the junta engaging in deception and distraction as it struggles on the battlefield against a broad range of resistance forces? The answer is almost certainly the latter. It would not be the first time the ruling generals have sought to stimulate international interest in promoting dialogue solely to enhance their legitimacy abroad.
Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered last week in Jakarta, with a range of critical challenges to address. Chief among those issues was the crisis in member state Myanmar, which the bloc is divided on how to approach. China’s aggressive activities in the South China Sea were also a key topic at the summit, with Beijing and ASEAN pledging to reach an agreement on a long-stalled non-binding code of conduct.
USIP’s Religion, Peace and Conflict Country Profiles (RPACCs) are concise analytic overviews of the religious landscape in countries at risk of, currently experiencing or recovering from violent conflict. RPACCs are intended to be used primarily by policymakers and practitioners looking to develop rapid familiarity with the nature and status of religion in a given country of interest as well as to understand how religion intersects with conflict and peace dynamics. The RPACC series is an outgrowth of USIP’s previous work on Religious Landscape Mapping in Conflict-Affected States.
Since spring 2021, USIP has been identifying best practices in psychosocial support to better facilitate collaboration and cooperation between religious actors and mental health professionals who provide services to conflict-affected communities, including trauma-affected displaced persons. This thematic area of work focused initially on Latin America as a pilot region and has since expanded to the Asia and European contexts — offering practical and evidence-based recommendations to relevant stakeholders.
In recent years, peace processes — such as the track 2 intra-Afghan negotiations — have shown that on both a moral and practical level, women’s inclusion is essential. Women’s involvement in peace processes increases their likelihood of success and longevity and can increase legitimacy. While more literature on women contributing to mediation and negotiation efforts is slowly being produced, little attention is currently being paid to the already existing work of women who employ their faith and mobilize religious resources for peacebuilding.