Coup in a pandemic: The case of Myanmar

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Myanmar lies on the brink of state failure. The military take-over of 1 February 2021 compounds and exacerbates the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic which had placed a fragile health system under duress and exacerbated pre-existing social and economic inequalities. The international community is confronted with a number of difficult options and choices, some rather unpalatable. Neither of these are likely to provide an immediate solution or even alleviation of pain, let alone persuade the military to return to the barracks.
The article contends that what is required is a wide and concerted international approach, ideally rooted in regional leadership, and one that is driven by simple and consistent messaging. European countries and their global and regional partners should support the livelihood, health and education of the people of Myanmar. A multi-pronged strategy would revolve around four distinct, but intertwined dimensions: dealing with the recognition/de-recognition of the authorities; the sanctions regime; humanitarian assistance; and accountability and justice.
Working with cross-border aid organisations, Myanmar’s partners would lend support to the argument that the periphery is, once again in the country’s history, central to its political dynamics. As the world seeks to move to a feeble post-pandemic recovery and is also confronted from the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan in the wake of the US withdrawal, dealing with Myanmar’s manifold crises is a tall order.
Period28 Sept 2021
Held atEuropean University Institute, Italy
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Myanmar
  • Burma
  • military
  • coup
  • repression
  • Asia
  • China
  • US
  • EU
  • UK
  • sanctions
  • engagement
  • diplomacy
  • resistance
  • civil war