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Burma: an update on our defence engagement
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The UK government will continue to engage with the Burmese military to promote adherence to democratic accountability, international law and human rights.
The Burmese military (Tatmadaw) remain a core political force in Burma and will be key to the process of political reform. Engaging with the Tatmadaw remains a sensitive issue. However, it is important to engage the military and encourage them to support reforms. It is only through wide engagement, including the military, that we will see greater democracy in Burma.
To that end a UK Defence Attaché has been resident in Rangoon since December 2013. Much of the early work of this Defence Attaché has been to establish an office and begin forming productive lines of communication with local contacts.
Educational courses also form part of our engagement. We use these opportunities to convey messages on professionalisation, the rule of law, military governance under civilian government, human rights and humanitarian law. In January 2014 the UK Defence Academy, with academic partners from Cranfield University, delivered its first defence education course, “Managing Defence in a Wider Security Context” (MDWSC). The course focussed on rule of law, democratic transition and human rights. Shortly after, a Tatmadaw officer visited the UK’s Defence Academy to attend a residential version of this course.
In 2015, we will continue this educational work, delivering another MDWSC course in January. Again the course will focus on rule of law, democratic transition and human rights, but will also be an opportunity to address issues such as the use and recruitment of child soldiers and sexual violence in conflict directly with Tatmadaw officers. See the MDWSC full programme (PDF, 167KB, 4 pages) for further details.
Also in January 2015, one Tatmadaw officer will travel to the UK to attend the Strategic Leadership Programme. This course is similar to the MDWSC but aimed at more senior officers and with a stronger focus on professionalisation of leadership. See the Strategic Leadership full programme (PDF, 95.2KB, 1 page) for further details.
The MOD has also secured funding and access for the British Council to deliver English Language Training at the Defence Services Academy (DSA). This will further our influence on the Tatmadaw to promote positive change.
It is clear that the support of the military will be vital to effecting real and lasting change in Burma. That is why we will continue to engage, teach and establish clear lines of communication to encourage the military to normalise their position in Burmese political system, support the democratic transition through constitutional reform and enshrine adherence to human rights at every level.