Roundtable Discussion - Australia’s Policy Response to the Myanmar Military Coup

On 1 February 2021, hours before Myanmar’s new parliament was set to meet for its first session, the Tatmadaw staged a military coup d’état and arrested Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior figures from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD).

On April 23rd, following the coup, Asialink hosted a closed-door round table to discuss the rapid developments in Myanmar and the potential policy options for Australia domestically and regionally. Convening a group of expert voices from Australia and Myanmar, the round table focused on three themes:

  • How is this coup is different from previous coups in the country and what are the potential outcomes? How should we understand the historical and political context in which the coup has happened?
  • How do the ethnic minority groups perceive the coup and calibrate their responses? What will be the lasting effects of the coup on Myanmar and its people?
  • What are Australia’s policy options in responding to the coup? Could Australia be doing more and involving regional partners in our response? What are the opportunities and limits on our policy response?

Attendants included Trevor Wilson, Nicholas Coppel, and Chris Lamb, who had all previously been Australia’s ambassador to Myanmar, as well as former US ambassador Scot Marciel, alongside current officials from DFAT, the United Nations, and think tanks working in the region.

The event culminated in a report that highlighted how Australia could support international diplomatic and humanitarian responses, and better coordinate our response with our partners in ASEAN.