Myanmar Maneuvers: How to Break Political-Criminal Alliances in Contexts of Transition

Myanmar’s transition to democracy and its search for ethnic peace interact in complex ways with the country’s illegal economies

Abstract

This case study report is part of the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series

Myanmar’s transition to democracy and its search for ethnic peace interact in complex ways with the country’s many extensive and booming illegal economies: drugs, logging, mining, and wildlife trafficking. Tackling them is not easy, as the author shows in this detailed case study report, inappropriate measures can undermine democratization, exacerbate an ethnic conflict already at its greatest level since the mid-1990s, and ultimately fail to suppress the illicit economies. Crime and anti-crime policies need to be considered through a political prism. Tackling Myanmar’s illicit economies needs to be undertaken judiciously, and with politics and balances of power in mind so that the political power of pro-plurality and pro-democratic elements is strengthened, not weakened, by tackling illicit economies and organized crime. Going after wildlife trafficking is currently the most auspicious area to prioritize.

There is also a blog and a brief video interview with the author.

This research was funded under the Department for International Development’s Policy Research Fund

Citation

Felbab-Brown, Vanda. Myanmar Maneuvers: How to Break Political-Criminal Alliances in Contexts of Transition United Nations University Centre for Policy Research Crime-Conflict Nexus Series: No 9, April 2017, 35p

Myanmar Maneuvers: How to Break Political-Criminal Alliances in Contexts of Transition

Published 26 April 2017