THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS SOCIETY PRESENTS

THE WASHINGTON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CONFERENCE III APRIL 1-3, 2016

CABINET OF MYANMAR

BACKGROUND GUIDE

 

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Committee:  Cabinet  of  Myanmar     Topic:  Thailand-­‐  Myanmar  Border  Conflict     Chair:  Benjamin  Shaver     [email protected]     Vice  Chair:  Aditya  Chourey    

PRÉCIS   The  problem  that  this  committee  should  consider  is  that  of  the  presence  of  ethnic  minorities   along  the  Thai-­‐Myanmar  border.  These  Burmese  minorities,  specifically  the  Karen,  Mon,  and   Khaya,  have  all  vowed  to  fight  for  autonomy.  Since  1980,  the  Thai  government  has  told  the   Myanmar  government  that  they  would  not  support  these  ethnic  minorities  in  their  attempts  to   gain  autonomy.  The  Myanmar  government  is  skeptical  however,  and  alleges  the  Thai   government  has  aided  these  groups  through  the  sale  of  arms  and  offering  logistical  support.   Fighting  between  the  Myanmar  government  and  these  groups  has  also  caused  many  members   of  these  ethnic  minorities  to  flee  Myanmar  and  enter  Thailand  as  refugees.1    

KEY  TERMS   Junta:  A  committee  or  coalition  of  actors  that  rules  a  country  immediately  after  a  coup  d’état   often  composed  of  military  men.     Myanmar  vs.  Burma:  For  a  long  time,  the  geographical  territory  now  called  Myanmar  was   known  as  Burma.  This  change  took  place  in  1989  when  the  government  in  power  passed  the   Adaptation  of  Expressions  law.  This  name  change  is  recognized  by  the  United  Nations,  France   and  Japan,  but  not  by  the  United  States  and  the  United  Kingdom  who  cite  the  fact  that  they  do   not  believe  that  an  unelected  military  regime  has  the  right  to  change  the  name  of  a  country.  In   this  simulation  we  will  refer  to  the  country  as  Myanmar.      

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 "Myanmar:  Conflict  Profile."  Peace  Direct,  accessed  May  20,  2015.   http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/myanmar/conflict-­‐profile/.  

 

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Southeast  Asia:  A  region  of  the  world  consisting  of  the  states  of  Myanmar,  Thailand,  Cambodia,   Laos,  Vietnam,  Singapore,  Malaysia,  Philippines,  Indonesia,  and  Brunei.      

ACTORS  LIST       •

Minister  for  Foreign  Affairs   o The  Minister  for  Foreign  Affairs  represents  Myanmar  diplomatically  when   interacting  with  other  nations  such  as  Thailand.  They  aim  to  bring  an  end  to  the   conflict  with  Thailand  and  end  the  conflict  with  ethnic  minorities,  notably   through  diplomacy  and  cooperation  with  Thailand.  



Minister  of  Defense     o The  Minister  of  Defense  has  a  stake  because  of  the  military  conflict  between   Thailand  and  Myanmar.  He  wants  to  prevent  military  conflict  with  Thailand  as   well  as  end  the  ethnic  minorities’  quest  for  autonomy  by  promoting  defensive   strategies  for  Myanmar.    



Minister  of  Border  Affairs   o Myanmar’s  Minister  of  Border  Affairs  is  invested  in  the  conflict  since  the  conflict   focuses  primarily  on  border  control.    They  would  like  to  ensure  the  integrity  of   the  Myanmar/Thai  border  by  securing  it  and  ensuring  that  ethnic  minorities  do   not  gain  autonomy.    



Minister  of  Transportation   o Myanmar’s  Minister  of  Transportation  is  concerned  that  the  military  conflict   could  damage  infrastructure.  They  aim  to  continue  to  improve  roads  and  other   transportation  routes  throughout  the  country.    



Minister  of  Finance   o The  Minister  of  Finance  aims  to  protect  Myanmar’s  economy.  They  intend  to   seek  funds  to  strengthen  the  border  while  also  improving  Myanmar’s  economy.    



Minister  of  the  President’s  Office   o Myanmar’s  Minister  of  the  President’s  Office  manages  notes  and  press  releases   for  the  President’s  office.  They  have  a  stake  in  upholding  the  values  of  the  

 

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government  and  nation.  They  intend  to  seek  a  peaceful  end  to  the  conflict  that   frames  the  President  well,  while  also  ending  the  minority’s  attempts  to  gain   autonomy.     •

Minister  of  Home  Affairs   o The  Minister  of  Home  Affairs  is  concerned  that  a  military  conflict  could  cause   unrest  at  home  within  Myanmar.  They  aim  to  ensure  that  the  minorities  are  not   able  to  gain  autonomy  while  strengthening  the  borders  of  Myanmar.  It  is  their   responsibility  to  maintain  law  and  order  to  ensure  peace  within  the  border.    



Minister  of  Social  Welfare,  Relief,  and  Resettlement     o The  Minister  of  Social  Welfare,  Relief,  and  Resettlement  believes  any  sort  of   conflict  will  hurt  social  welfare.  In  their  capacity  as  minister,  they  wish  to   improve  the  weak  human  development  of  the  country  and  resettle  the   minorities.    



Minister  of  Labor,  Employment,  and  Social  Security   o Myanmar’s  Minister  of  Labor,  Employment,  and  Social  Security  is  concerned   that  high  unemployment  could  lead  to  unrest  that  would  only  worsen  the   conflict.  They  aim  to  improve  employment  and  improve  education  so  as  to   produce  a  more  qualified  work  force.    



Minister  of  Mining   o The  Minister  of  Mining  is  focusing  on  the  fact  that  Myanmar’s  economy  is   heavily  built  on  mining,  and  if  this  is  interrupted  Myanmar  will  face  severe   economic  problems.  They  aim  to  ensure  that  the  mines  are  undamaged  in   conflict  and  to  ensure  that  mining  carries  on  as  usual  to  meet  what  is  required   for  economic  sustainability.    



Minister  of  Culture   o The  Minister  of  Culture  is  concerned  with  preserving  and  researching   Myanmar’s  history.  They  aim  to  preserve  Myanmar’s  legacy,  which  includes   maintaining  important  sites  and  promoting  a  national  identity.    



 

Minister  of  Energy  

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o The  Minister  of  Energy  is  responsible  for  manufacturing  and  distributing  of   petrochemicals  and  exploring  crude  oils.  They  run  the  energy  sector.     •

Minister  of  Religious  Affairs   o Myanmar’s  Minister  of  Religious  Affairs  promotes  the  purification  and   propagation  of  Theravada  Buddhist  Sasana  while  also  preserving  traditional   culture.  They  are  concerned  with  purifying  Theravada  Buddhist  Sasana.    



Minister  of  Immigration  and  Population   o The  Minister  of  Immigration  manages  the  nation’s  immigration  affairs.  They  are   concerned  with  streamlining  and  improving  Myanmar’s  immigration  process  so   that  the  nation  remains  safe.    



Minister  of  Information   o The  Minister  of  Information  is  responsible  for  disseminating  information  about   government  policies  to  the  public.  They  are  concerned  with  improving  the   public’s  education  on  government  happenings.    



President  (Chair)   o The  role  of  the  President  of  Myanmar  will  be  filled  by  the  committee’s  chair.  He   will  lead  debate  and  guide  the  cabinet’s  decision  making.  As  President,  his  goal  is   to  maintain  Myanmar’s  interests  and  insure  Myanmar’s  prosperity.2  

CHRONOLOGY     •

Burmese-­‐Siamese  War,  1785   A  war  is  fought  between  Konbaung  dynasty  of  Burma  and  Siam  (now  known  as   Thailand).  This  lead  to  the  formation  of  distrust  between  the  two  countries.  



Burma  becomes  British  colony,  1824   In  1824  Burma  became  a  colony  of  the  British  India.  Much  of  the  later  unrest  in   the  country  of  Burma  can  be  traced  back  to  its  colonization.    



Burma  gains  independence,  1948  

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 "Government  Ministries  in  Myanmar."  Embassy  of  the  Republic  of  the  Union  of  Myanmar,  Washington,  DC.,   accessed  January  21,  2016.  http://www.mewashingtondc.com/MM_Ministries_en.php.  

 

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During  World  War  II,  the  Burmese  military  fought  the  Japanese  to  expel  them   from  Burma.  Because  of  this,  after  the  war,  the  Burmese  government  was  in  a   position  from  which  they  could  negotiate  with  the  British  government  for   independence.  Burma’s  independence  left  a  power  vacuum  which  created   unrest.     •

Military  Coup,  1962   This  is  the  beginning  of  socialist  rule  in  Burma.  It  was  led  by  Ne  Win  and  the   Union  Revolutionary  Council.  This  coup  is  seen  as  the  start  of  the  military   dominance  in  Burma’s  government  that  still  exists  today.  



Military  Coup,  1988   A  series  of  protests  and  demonstrations  lead  to  a  coup  which  replaced  Ne  Win’s   government  with  a  more  brutal  one  which  cracked  down  violently  on  the   protestors.  This  turbulent  transition  of  power  contributed  to  the  current  unrest   in  the  country.  



Republic  of  Burma  changes  name  to  the  Republic  of  Myanmar,  1989   The  new  government  changed  the  name  from  Myanmar  to  a  more  English   version,  Burma.  Several  towns  also  had  their  names  changed  to  English  names.   This  lead  to  ethnic  minorities  feeling  alienated,  and  many  still  refer  to  the   country  as  Burma.  Although  Myanmar  is  recognized  by  the  United  Nations,  the   United  States  and  United  Kingdom  do  not  recognize  the  name  change.    



Military  skirmishes  at  Border,  2001   Thai  and  Myanmese  troops  exchanged  fire,  killing  five  civilians.  The  skirmish   began  when  fighting  broke  out  between  Myanmese  troops  and  Shan  rebels.  This   event  further  contributed  to  unrest  between  Thailand  and  Myanmar.3  



160,000  ethnic  minorities  flee  to  the  Thailand  border,  2007   In  2007,  160,000  Myanmese  ethnic  minorities  fled  the  country  seeking  refuge  at   the  Thailand-­‐Myanmar  border.  This  has  led  to  conflict  between  Thailand  and  

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 "Fresh  Fighting  on  Thai-­‐Burma  Border."  BBC,  February  1,  2001.  

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Myanmar  because  the  Myanmese  government  believes  the  Thai  government  is   aiding  these  rebels.4    

ROOT  CAUSES   One  root  cause  of  this  conflict  was  the  colonization  of  Myanmar  by  the  British.  Because  of  the   British  occupation,  for  much  of  Burmese  history  the  nation  was  not  in  charge  of  its  own  destiny.   When  Britain  left,  it  left  a  gaping  power  vacuum  and  a  nation  that  was  forced  to  relearn  self-­‐ governance.     Another  root  cause  of  this  conflict  is  the  violent  history  of  coups  that  has  continued  since   Myanmar  gained  its  independence.  Because  there  have  been  multiple  coups,  the  government   has  not  been  able  to  remain  stable  long  enough  to  resolve  any  of  the  underlying  issues  that   persist  in  the  nation.     A  third  root  cause  of  this  conflict  is  the  ethnic  minorities  of  Myanmar’s  desire  for  self-­‐ determination,  and  the  government’s  unwillingness  to  allow  it.  Because  of  this,  many  minorities   have  fled  Myanmar  to  neighboring  countries  such  as  Thailand,  which  has  led  to  international   conflict.5  

IMPLICATIONS  AND  PROJECTIONS   In  the  short  term,  if  this  issue  is  not  immediately  addressed  we  will  see  a  rise  in  instances  of   violence  between  the  Myanmese  government  and  the  Myanmese  ethnic  minorities,  and  then   eventually  between  the  Myanmese  government  and  the  Thai  government.  We  will  also  see  a   rise  in  the  number  of  ethnic  minorities  who  are  moving  towards  the  Thailand-­‐Myanmar  border   and  a  rise  in  the  number  who  are  crossing  the  border  into  Thailand.     In  the  long  term,  if  this  issue  is  not  addressed,  there  undoubtedly  will  be  larger  scale  violence   between  the  government  of  Myanmar  and  the  government  of  Thailand.  While  there  have  only   been  skirmishes  thus  far,  this  could  quickly  turn  into  more  if  the  issue  of  the  Myanmese    ethnic                                                                                                                           4

 "History  of  Conflict  and  the  Border."  Burma  Link,  accessed  May  29,  2015.   http://www.burmalink.org/background/thailand-­‐burma-­‐border/history-­‐of-­‐conflict-­‐and-­‐the-­‐border/.   5  "Briefing:  Myanmar's  Ethnic  Problems."  IRIN  Asia,  March  29,  2012  

 

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minorities  is  not  resolved.  There  also  could  soon  be  more  violence  between  the  government  of   Myanmar  and  those  ethnic  minorities  that  are  seeking  self-­‐determination.  These  minorities   could  also  soon  cause  economic  strain  on  Thailand  as  more  and  more  of  these  minorities  travel   across  the  border  into  the  country.6  

POSITION  PAPERS       Positions  papers  must  be  submitted  via  email  to  the  committee  chair  by  Friday,  March  18,  2016.  Should   you  have  any  questions  regarding  positions  papers  for  your  committee,  please  contact  your  chair.  The   chair’s  email  address  is  located  on  the  top  of  the  first  page.  Delegates  without  position  papers  will  not  be   considered  for  an  award.    

  Works  Cited     •

"Briefing:  Myanmar's  Ethnic  Problems."  IRIN  Asia,  March  29,  2012.  



"Fresh  Fighting  on  Thai-­‐Burma  Border."  BBC,  February  1,  2001.  



"Government  Ministries  in  Myanmar."  Embassy  of  the  Republic  of  the  Union  of   Myanmar,  Washington,  DC.  Accessed  January  21,  2016.   http://www.mewashingtondc.com/MM_Ministries_en.php.  



"History  of  Conflict  and  the  Border."  Burma  Link,  accessed  May  29,  2015.   http://www.burmalink.org/background/thailand-­‐burma-­‐border/history-­‐of-­‐conflict-­‐and-­‐the-­‐ border/.  



"Myanmar:  Conflict  Profile."  Peace  Direct,  accessed  May  20,  2015.   http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/myanmar/conflict-­‐profile/.    

• "Overview."  Burma  Link,  accessed  July  29,  2015.   http://www.burmalink.org/background/thailand-­‐burma-­‐border/overview/.  

Works  Consulted     •

Barta,  Patrick.  "Myanmar  Government  Reshuffles  Cabinet."  The  Wall  Street  Journal,   August  28,  2012.    

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"Overview."  Burma  Link.  Acessed  July  29,  2015.  http://www.burmalink.org/background/thailand-­‐burma-­‐ border/overview/.  

 

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  •

"Burma."  World  Without  Genocide.  Accessed  June  29,  2015.   http://worldwithoutgenocide.org/genocides-­‐and-­‐conflicts/burma.    



"Myanmar  -­‐  Civil  War."  Conflict  Map,  accessed  June  24,  2015.   http://www.conflictmap.org/conflict/myanmar_rebels.    



"Myanmar  Profile  –  Timeline."  BBC  News.  June  19,  2015,  accessed  June  23,  2015.   http://www.bbc.com/news/world-­‐asia-­‐pacific-­‐12992883.    

  Suggested  Additional  Reading     •

"Cabinet."  Regime  Watch.  Accessed  July  25,  2015.   http://www.altsean.org/Research/Regime  Watch/Executive/Cabinet.php.    



Campbell,  Charlie.  "Burmese  Refugees  Remain  in  Limbo  by  Thai  Border  Despite  Political   Reforms."  Time,  August  1,  2013.    



Chongkittavorn,  Kavi.  "Thai-­‐Burma  Relations."  International  IDEA:  117-­‐29.    



"Developments  Since  2010  Elections."  Burma  Link.  Accessed  July  29,  2015.   http://www.burmalink.org/background/recent-­‐developments/developments-­‐since-­‐2010-­‐ elections/.    



Fuller,  Thomas.  "President  of  Myanmar  Reshuffles  His  Cabinet."  The  New  York  Times,   August  1,  2012.    



"In  Pictures:  Life  on  the  Thailand-­‐Myanmar  Border."  The  Elders.  2014,  accessed  July  25,   2015.  http://theelders.org/article/pictures-­‐life-­‐thailand-­‐myanmar-­‐border.    



Mahtani,  Shibani.  "Myanmar  Shuffles  Cabinet  Amid  Press  Crackdowns,  Aid  Disputes."   The  Wall  Street  Journal,  July  30,  2014.    



"Refugee  Camps."  Burma  Link,  accessed  July  29,  2015.   http://www.burmalink.org/background/thailand-­‐burma-­‐border/displaced-­‐in-­‐ thailand/refugee-­‐camps/.    



"Thailand."  UNHCR  News.  Accessed  July  27,  2015.   http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e489646.html.    

 

Cabinet  of  Myanmar:  Thailand-­‐Myanmar  Border  Conflict     •

 

"THAILAND-­‐MYANMAR:  Thousands  Still  Displaced  along  Border."  IRIN  Asia,  2011.    

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