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U.S. Policy Towards Burma


Burmese political prisoners Win Thaw (L) and Win Hla (R) stand outside the entrance of the Insein Prison upon their release. (file)

“Four years after we started down the path of principled engagement [with Burma], the culture of reform in Burma is increasingly self-driven and self-perpetuating.”

“Four years after we started down the path of principled engagement [with Burma], the culture of reform in Burma is increasingly self-driven and self-perpetuating,” U.S. Department of State Senior Advisor on Burma Judith Beth Cefkin said recently in testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.



“The Government of Burma has released over 1,100 political prisoners [since 2011] . . . substantially eased media censorship . . . signed the International Atomic Energy Agency Additional Protocol . . . taken steps to fulfill its obligation to implement the UN Security Council resolutions concerning [North] Korea . . . and reformed its policies and laws to attract foreign investment.”

Yet the transition remains fragile and the country faces long-standing challenges, including a struggle to define a common national identity, the need to strengthen rule of law, including efforts to promote justice and accountability, and the need to achieve a more equitable distribution of power and the benefits of Burma’s vast natural resources.

The pillars of U.S. policy towards Burma include promoting national peace and reconciliation; supporting the development of democratic systems governed by rule of law and protecting human rights; helping Burma realize its transition to a free-market economy; strengthening livelihoods and local governance; and helping Burma become a positive, integrated regional and global partner.

“Our continued engagement to effect positive change in Burma is grounded in our strategic interest in a successful, politically, and economically progressive Asia-Pacific region and the fundamental values that are at the core of who we are as a nation,” Ms. Cefkin said.

Burma is ethnically diverse, with 135 recognized ethnic nationalities and a history of ethnic conflict.

“The quest for nation-wide peace and reconciliation is the defining challenge of Burma’s transformation,” Ms. Cefkin said. “Unless the people of Burma can achieve peace and national unity, based on equal rights and respect for diversity, no other reforms will be sustainable.”

“The United States remains committed to reinforcing Burma’s progress on reform,” Ms. Cefkin said. “We owe it to the Burmese people, and to ourselves given our long-standing commitment to the country, to continue to support them as a remarkable moment of opportunity dawns.”
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