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Responding to Democratic Demands: Foreign policy for Thailand and Myanmar
Presented by: Professor Nicholas Farrelly, Head of Social Sciences

In recent decades, Thailand and Myanmar have invested heavily in “transitions” from authoritarianism but still struggle to consolidate effective democratic rule. Military interventions and the entrenchment of elite interests weigh heavily against aspirations for wide-ranging political and social reform. In both countries, the economic damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic has proved significant and destabilising.

Under these turbulent conditions, analysts of domestic politics often find themselves asked to recommend foreign policy responses. Such foreign policy choices require an appreciation of the national situations and the full consideration of regional and global implications, especially at a time when China seeks to set an Asia-wide agenda. Where there are no easy answers, it is tempting to judge that foreign policy – whether crafted in Canberra, Tokyo, Washington or Jakarta – will make little difference to the overall outcomes.

Looking at Southeast Asia from an Australian perspective, this presentation assesses the various policy responses that could assist the people of countries like Thailand and Myanmar in their demands for greater democratisation. These responses range from the familiar, such as sanctions against top military figures, through more unconventional engagements, including those that test our views of national sovereignty.

Mar 11, 2021 05:00 PM in Hobart

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Professor Nicholas Farrelly
Head of Social Sciences @University of Tasmania
Professor Nicholas Farrelly is Head of Social Sciences at the University of Tasmania, where he leads a large multi-disciplinary team responding to important local, national and global issues. After graduating from the ANU with First Class Honours and the University Medal in Asian Studies, he completed his M.Phil and D.Phil at Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. In 2006, Nicholas founded New Mandala, a website which has gone on to become the preeminent public forum in Southeast Asian Studies. From 2011, he held a number of key academic positions in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, including as Deputy Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs and as Director of the ANU Myanmar Research Centre, an institution he helped establish in 2015. From 2017-2019 Nicholas was an Associate Dean in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.