This public symposium was held in-person at Victoria University of Wellington‘s Kelburn Campus. You can watch our patron, Rt. Hon. Helen Clark’s introductory speech here:

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.

This symposium analysed this situation and explored whether there is any prospect of a return to democracy in this geo-political powder keg.

The symposium speakers included:

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 was 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.

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