Paller, M. (2007) Towards governance reform : a critical review of foreign assistance to Burma/Myanmar

Title: Towards governance reform : a critical review of foreign assistance to Burma/Myanmar
Author: Michael Paller
Year: 2007
Keywords: Burma, Foreign relations, Economic assistance
Thai thesis available here.
Abstract: Burma receives a paltry amount of foreign assistance. This is because donors rescinded aid and devised new policies strictly limiting cooperation with the Burmese government in response to the military’s ruthless crackdown on protests in August 1988 and the junta’s subsequent failure to establish democracy. The little assistance that remains is primarily humanitarian. This paper begins with the premise that carefully considered, attentively applied, closely monitored aid can be effective in eventually bringing about governance reforms in Burma. But what foreign assistance strategies are most likely to improve governance in Burma and why? In answering this question, this paper evaluates different strategies according to the principal recipient of aid. Such recipients include: the State Peace and Development Council; local government and the civil bureaucracy; international agencies (UN and INGOs); community-based organizations inside Burma; nongovernmental organization in exile; or nobody. Key findings point to mixed results. The links between governance reform and foreign aid are tenuous, even in theory, but certain strategies seem to be able to promote and even provoke change. The strategies that channel aid to the SPDC or no one are most unlikely to bring about such change; however engagement with the civil bureaucracy, international agencies, community-based organizations inside Burma and nongovernmental organizations in exile has produced results, albeit on a relatively small-scale.

Contact MAIDS-Chula for more information and full thesis at maidschula@gmail.com

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