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.
Support for Myanmar’s Junta Only Prolongs the Country’s Conflict
Myanmar’s coup regime, whose principal strategy for dealing with the country’s resistance movement is blunt, unrelenting brutality, benefits from three misconceptions prevalent in the international community: First, that consolidation of the military’s power is essentially inevitable; second, that absence of the generals’ regime would lead to a power vacuum and failed state; and third, that long-term military control is preferable to the status quo and would lead to stability.
Myanmar’s Criminal Junta Will Do Anything to Consolidate Power
After months of fanfare about holding elections in August 2023, Myanmar’s junta chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, suddenly changed course. On February 1, he extended the junta’s illegitimate rule by another six months acknowledging that the military does not control enough of the country to administer an election. This development represents a setback for those in the international community who had naively believed that sham elections would pave the way to a stable Myanmar.
Youth, Identity, and the Post-Coup Experience in Myanmar
One of the biggest challenges facing Myanmar today is its lack of a cohesive national identity. Its colonial legacy and half a century of authoritarian rule has reified group divisions and hardened societal cleavages, leading to negative, and sometimes outright hostile, relations between different groups. Against this background, the authors discuss how the Myanmar youth perceive their social identity, in particular national identity, and how they conceptualize notions of citizenship within the Myanmar context, as well as the implications of the coup and the post-coup experience for the youth’s perceptions of social identity and interethnic relations in Myanmar.
Summit for Democracy 2023
USIP is providing special support for the White House’s second Summit for Democracy. In cooperation with the Global Democracy Coalition, USIP will convene side events that bring together government and civil society leaders to discuss how democracies can support each other in meeting current challenges. The Institute will also co-host signature summit events with U.S. agencies.
Religious and Psychosocial Support for Displaced Trauma Survivors
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.
Religious Women Negotiating on the Frontlines
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.