Rethinking International Engagement in Post-Cyclone Burma


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Democracy & Human Rights Seminar

When: Jun 12 2008 (All day)
Where: The East-West Center in Washington Conference room- 12:30- 2:30 PM


On May 2-3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis exacted a tragic toll upon Burma unlike anything the country had experienced before, spawning a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions. Coming amidst a controversial referendum vote on a new constitution drafted by the ruling junta, the havoc wrought by the storm;and the regime's uninspired response to international assistance; has illuminated both the challenges and opportunities of international engagement with the isolationist regime. This seminar will address approaches to international engagement with Burma in the post-Cyclone era.What role can non-state actors and civil society organizations, both local and international, play in the relief process? How can the U.S. and the international community most effectively engage the junta, and what scenarios exist for constitutional and regime change?

This event is free and open to the public and will include a light luncheon at 12:30 PM. Please RSVP with Alison Hazell by email at [email protected] or by phone at 202-327-9752 to ensure your seat.

Priscilla Clapp is a retired Minister-Counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service. During her 30-year career with the U.S. Government, Ms. Clapp served as Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Burma (1999-2002), Deputy Chief of Mission in the U.S. Embassy in South Africa (1993-96), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Refugee Programs (1989-1993), Political Counselor in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (1986-88), and chief of political-military affairs in the U.S. Embassy in Japan (1981-85).She also worked on the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, in its East Asian, Political Military, and International Organizations Bureaus, and with the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.She speaks Russian, Japanese, French, and some Burmese. Her books include: with Morton Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy (Brookings, 2006), with I.M. Destler et al., Managing an Alliance: the Politics of U.S.-Japanese Relations (Brookings, 1976), with Morton Halperin, U.S.-Japanese Relations in the 1970's (Harvard, 1974). She is the author of numerous chapters, articles and other publications on foreign policy, including most recently, a chapter on Burma in Robert Rotberg, ed., The Worst of the Worst (Brookings 2007) and "Burma's Long Road to Democracy," a U.S. Institute of Peace Special Report, November 2007 (

Kyi May Kaung, a native of Burma, came to the U.S. in the 1980s on a Fulbright scholarship and went on to receive a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in City and Regional Planning (with an emphasis on political economy). A prize-winning poet, from 1997-2001 she wrote and produced a well-regarded weekly international radio show on dissident poetry. She also runs a literary salon in Washington, DC; participates in art shows with other refugee artists; and gives poetry readings, all while speaking and writing frequently on Burmese politics. From 2001-2004 she worked with The Burma Fund, affiliated with the Burmese Democratic Government in Exile (NCGUB). She was recognized this year by Northeast Illinois University for her work on peace and democracy promotion in Burma, and has also received awards for her poetry and playwriting.

David Steinberg, a specialist on Burma-Myanmar, North Korea and South Korea, Southeast Asia and U.S. policy in Asia, is Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies at Georgetown University. He was previously a Representative of the Asia Foundation in Korea; Distinguished Professor of Korea Studies, Georgetown University; and President of the Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs. Earlier, as a member of the Senior Foreign Service, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of State, he was Director for Technical Assistance in Asia and the Middle East, and Director for Philippines, Thailand, and Burma Affairs. He spent three years in Thailand with the USAID Regional Development Office. He is the author of thirteen books and monographs, including: Turmoil in Burma: Contested Legitimacies in Myanmar (2006), Burma: The State of Myanmar (2001), Stone Mirror: Reflections on Contemporary Korea (2002), and The Republic of Korea: Economic Transformation and Social Change (1989). He has authored over 100 articles and book chapters, and some 250 op-eds. Professor Steinberg was educated at Dartmouth College, Lingnan University (Canton, China), Harvard University, and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Alison Hazell
Phone: 202-327-9752