Myanmar after the military coup: What can/should international actors do?

Open seminar co-arranged by ABF Stockholm, Swedish Defence University, Olof Palme International Center, and Stockholm Center for Global Asia, Stockholm University.

Matilda Ernkrans, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation
Nyi Nyi Kyaw, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen/Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Germany
Elisabeth Olivius, Department of Political Science, Umeå University

More than a year of civil resistance against the military take-over of political power, the cruel and asymmetric conflict between the army (known as the Tatmadaw) and people in Myanmar continues. We have witnessed accounts of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, illegal arrests, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence against pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders. To date, more than 13,000 people have reportedly been arrested and almost 2,000 killed. The conflict has gradually transformed and is assuming a more complex nature. Any form of reconciliation seems far-fetched as at least two incompatible political trajectories stand against each other: a road towards democratization and another path towards re-consolidation of military-rule. According to many, the people of Myanmar has been abandoned, or even betrayed, by ‘the international community’. In this seminar we focus on three pertinent questions: What are the possibilities for external actors to support a positive development in Myanmar, what support is requested by the movements themselves, and what can we say about effects of such international support so far?

We are honoured to welcome three prominent speakers: Matilda Ernkrans, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, will address Sweden’s support to Myanmar’s pro-democracy and human rights movement after the coup, and the possibilities for Sweden’s democracy and development support, in general, in complex authoritarian contexts. With his background in research on social movements, and an ongoing project on the ‘Myanmar Spring’, Nyi Nyi Kyaw will address the ‘Myanmar Spring’ after more than a year of resistance, while Elisabeth Olivius will base her talk on her ongoing research about how international actors’ have adapted their modes of engagement in Myanmar for women, peace and security, after the coup, and on the actual requests for such support by womens’ organisations.

Nyi Nyi Kyaw is a fellow at the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI)/Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Germany, and honorary fellow at Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness, University of Melbourne. After obtaining his PhD from the University of New South Wales, he was a postdoctoral research fellow and assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, and subsequently a visiting fellow at ISEAS, Singapore 2019 -2020. His work has been published in Social Identities, Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, and Review of Faith & International Affairs, and has concerned citizenship, nationalism and constitutional change in Myanmar, among other topics. He is now working on a manuscript on Myanmar Spring

Elisabeth Olivius is an Associate Professor in Political Science at Umeå University. Her research explores peacebuilding, post-war development, women’s activism, and migration and diaspora politics with a focus on Myanmar. She is a book reviews editor for International Feminist Journal of Politics, and coordinates the Varieties of Peace research network.

More information about the event

Date: May 17, 2022
Time: 6:00 PM—7:30 PM
Location: ABF Stockholm, Sveavägen 41, Stockholm
Contact: Jenny Hedström , 08-553 42 770,