Re-focusing ASEAN and Australian strategies to support conflict transformation and humanitarian efforts in Myanmar

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The University of Melbourne’s Initiative for Peacebuilding, in collaboration with the CRPH/NUG Support Group (Australia) invite you to join a forum on “Re-focusing ASEAN and Australian strategies to support conflict transformation and humanitarian efforts in Myanmar.” The aim of this forum is to help refocus towards improved mechanisms for continuing dialogue towards conflict transformation and increased humanitarian support to the people of Myanmar.

Briefings will be provided by:

  • HE Daw Zin Mar Aung, National Unity Government Foreign Minister, with an opening update
  • Dr Emma Leslie, Director of Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, with a brief analysis of regional dynamics to support conflict transformation efforts for Myanmar

These will be followed by a moderated panel with 40 minutes for discussion and questions from participants. Exploring what Australia’s responses can be for support to Myanmar, alongside ASEAN and beyond, the panel will include:

  • Mr Christopher Gunness, Director, Myanmar Accountability Project - moderator of the panel
  • Professor Baogang He, Alfred Deakin Professor and Personal Chair in International Relations
  • Mr Charles Santiago, Malaysian MP and Chairperson of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights
  • Mr Dave Sharma, MP for Wentworth and Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Aid Subcommittee
  • Mr Peter Khalil, MP for Wills and Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee for Treaties

The event will be held via Zoom on Wednesday 20 October 2021, 5pm-6.30pm AEDT / 12.30pm – 2.00 MMT.

Background to the event

This forum builds on a series of roundtables convened by the Initiative for Peacebuilding. Previous discussions recognise that ASEAN, despite its limitations, is important for connections and influence in Myanmar in a way few others do, and this is why the Australian government as an ASEAN Strategic Partner is keen to work with them. Australian actors have been ready to encourage and explore ASEAN approaches to date. There also exists a strong desire for increased direct and transparent engagement with the CRPH/NUG and the international community, including ASEAN and countries like Australia.

It has now been over 8 months since Min Aung Hlaing's illegal and failed coup, with ensuing violence and atrocities committed by the military junta, with slow and uncertain action by the international community, and cautious engagement with Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG). The UN, USA, China, Russia, and Australia are putting ASEAN at the centre of responses to support conflict transformation and humanitarian engagement in Myanmar. Yet we are seeing limits to ASEAN capacity to fulfill the 5-point consensus it created to address the crisis.

The crimes against humanity committed by the military junta, the Myanmar people’s defensive movement “Peoples’ Revolution” and worsening humanitarian consequences of the violent conflict, and COVID-19 pandemic makes regional responses even more urgent and necessitates a review of such efforts to re-focus and enhance support to the people of Myanmar and broaden pathways alongside ASEAN efforts.