Myanmar faced another year of ongoing challenges in 2019. The Rohingya crisis has continued to dominate foreign understandings of the country, and international legal challenges over it have been proliferating. The plight of the Rohingya population remains precarious both within Myanmar and Bangladesh, and at the same time fighting has escalated within Rakhine State, but also in Kachin and northern Shan states.
Conversely, the government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has furthered some reforms and maintained relatively strong economic growth averaging just under 7 percent. Key reforms have spanned the finance, insurance, and electricity sectors, and have also included the placement of the country’s paramount agency for public administration, the General Administration Department, fully under elected, civilian control.
With the much-anticipated general election approaching in late 2020, this will be an important year for Myanmar as it oscillates between exceptional crises versus aspirations for democracy and development. Dr. Matthew Arnold, The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Myanmar, will provide his observations and insights on the conflict dynamics, prospects for policy making, the upcoming election, and other challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Moderator: Dr. Nipa Banerjee, Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor, School of International Development and Global Studies, and Principal Researcher, CIPS, University of Ottawa
Matthew Arnold is The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Myanmar. Arnold’s focus is on subnational governance, conflict, and managing a diverse research agenda. He has broad field-based monitoring and evaluation experience; has conducted extensive academic research on conflict, security and state fragility; and has in-depth knowledge of Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Thailand. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Arnold has co-authored two books: Militias and the Challenges of Post-Conflict Peace (Zed Books, 2011) and South Sudan: From revolution to independence (Oxford University Press, 2012). He also has published in leading journals on Asia, security and development, including Asian Survey, International Peacekeeping, and Conflict, Security and Development.