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Event: Myanmar crisis: is there a pathway to democracy?

Two years on from the 1st February 2021 coup d’etat Myanmar is on a trajectory to a failed rogue state. The military junta continues to wage a brutal war against its own people, more than 1.2 million have been internally displaced, the economy has collapsed and the UN reports that 50% of the population are living in poverty.

Against this backdrop, the regime is gearing up to hold elections later this year. It presents this as a return to civilian rule but it is seen as a move to consolidate its control by making a transition from emergency rule to a longer-term military-backed government. There is no prospect that these polls will be credible, and a high risk that it will intensify the violence.

The symposium will analyse the situation and explore whether there is any prospect of a return to democracy in this geo-political powder keg.




  • Right Honourable Helen Clark ONZ, former Prime Minister and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme
  • Professor David Capie – Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at the Victoria University of Wellington – Te Herenga Waka.
  • Susannah Patton – Director of the Southeast Asia Programme at the Lowy Institute Sydney.
  • Dr Tun-Aung Shwe – Representative to the Commonwealth of Australia of the National Unity Government of Myanmar.
  • Stephen Marshall – former NZ Ambassador to Myanmar.
  • Chris Sidoti – Australian human rights lawyer and Commissioner, and member of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar.
  • Hon Margaret Wilson – former Attorney- General and Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament.

The symposium is a collaboration between the Kia Kaha Myanmar Group, the VUW Centre for Strategic Studies, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, the Helen Clark Foundation and UnionAID.

Right now, the people of Myanmar are fighting for their democracy and their future against the military coup and they are calling for our support.

UnionAID is liaising constantly with our partners on how we can help.  They have asked for funding to support the campaign for democracy and to uphold human rights.

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