Patron: Her Excellency The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand

Challenges to democracy in Myanmar and the U.S.

Dr Anita Perkins

In recent months we’ve seen challenges to democracy the U.S. and Myanmar which pose both domestic and international security threats. These developments are especially unwelcome in light of the global cooperation required to address the Covid-19 pandemic. Insurrection and military take-over imperil the tools of international collaborative responses based on the principles of democracy. In practical terms, large gatherings also run counter to efforts addressing the spread of the virus.

Pro-trump supporters commit insurrection in Washington

On 6th January pro-Trump protestors marched on Congress and broke into the United States Capitol buildings. The protestors were up in arms concerning the official certification process taking place to confirm President Biden’s election win. Trump played a role in instigating the violence through Twitter messages to his supporters. However, a subsequent impeachment trial resulted in Trump being acquitted on the charge of inciting an insurrection.

In a speech to the virtual Munich Security Conference on 19th Feb, recently inaugurated President Joe Biden stressed the importance of democracy to world leaders: “We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future direction of our world. Between those who argue that — given all of the challenges we face, from the fourth industrial revolution to a global pandemic — autocracy is the best way forward and those who understand that democracy is essential to meeting those challenges.”

Biden Pleads for Democracy Over Autocracy, Repudiating Trump

Military Takeover in Myanmar

Unfortunately not a stranger to political instability, Myanmar suffered a military takeover on 1 February 2021. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is detained and there have been wide-spread protests and violence.

Special Envoy to Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener spoke to the UN General Assembly about the situation. She asked Ambassadors to send a clear signal supporting democracy: “There is no justification for the military’s actions, and we must continue to call for the reversal of this impermissible situation, exhausting all collective and bilateral channels to restore Myanmar’s path on democratic reform”.

Myanmar Ambassador To UN Denounces Military Coup, As Envoy Warns Democratic Processes Have Been ‘Pushed Aside’