ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Special Dialogue on Myanmar


Following the military coup in Myanmar on February 1st 2021, Asialink convened a special session of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand (AANZ) Dialogue, alongside Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia and the Asia New Zealand Foundation. The session discussed what role Australia and New Zealand can play alongside ASEAN in responding to the crisis.

On 24 April 2021, following the coup by Myanmar’s military on 1 February 2021, ASEAN held a high-level summit to discuss the mounting crisis in Myanmar. It was the first foreign visit by Myanmar Junta Leader, Min Aung Hlaing, since the coup. The resulting five-point consensus called for an immediate cessation of violence and constructive dialogue among all parties, which, while encouraging, failed to change the reality on the ground.

Asialink, in collaboration with ISIS-Malaysia and Asia New Zealand Foundation, made the decision to convene a special edition of the AANZ Dialogue to discuss the rapid developments in Myanmar and the potential policy options for ASEAN and its partners in the region. Following on from the previous, Asialink Closed-Door Round Table on Myanmar, organised on 23 April among a group of expert voices from Australia representing a range of sectors including academia, civil society, business and government, the AANZ Dialogue explored deeper into three themes:

  • What has been the developments since the ASEAN Summit on Myanmar? How should we perceive General Min Aung Hlaing’s response and the 5-point consensus? Has ASEAN responded too late and undermined its credibility, centrality and relevance?
  • How should we interpret the different responses shown by ASEAN Member States – Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore being more outspoken on one hand and the others more muted? Could Singapore and Thailand in particular, have done more given their vested interests?
  • Is there a role for external parties such as Australia and New Zealand to work with ASEAN and what form would it take? Are the responses taking into considerations the aspirations of the Myanmar people? Should the junta be held accountable for the deaths and violence resulted so far? What are possible scenarios on how the crisis might unfold?

Participants included Australian Ambassador to ASEAN Will Nankervis and Director of the ASEAN Secretariat’s Political & Security Directorate Dr Tang Siew Mun. The other attendants were composed of as well as government officials, academics, and representatives of think tanks from across the region.

May 2021 Conference