Organized Panel Session
A central issue of Myanmar’s tentative trajectory of democratization is the reform of the all-powerful military institution (Tatmadaw) and the fundamental transformation of the country’s civil-military relations. This panel investigates the recent evolution of the country’s civil-military equation under the government of the National League for Democracy (NLD) formed in March 2016. It first examines how the armed forces and the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi have negotiated new ‘redlines’ within and across various policy areas. Second, it interrogates the use of parliamentary questions by elected civilian MPs in the NLD-led Union legislature as an instrument of oversight over the behavior, funding and activities of the Tatmadaw. Third, it analyzes the evolving interactions between the Tatmadaw leadership and ethnic-based movements in the context of a resurgent ethnonationalism and a faltering peace process. Fourth, it looks at how non-governmental civilian agencies – in particular the media, civil society, policy institutes and various educational institutions across Myanmar – have also sought to conduct a form of public scrutiny of the military since 2016 and expand citizen participation in security sector governance. Building mechanisms for civilian and legislative control over the armed forces is often construed as an important indicator of progress in a democratic transition. The panel thus intends to draw tentative conclusions on the prospects for stable civil-military relations and democratization in Myanmar a decade after the military junta disbanded.