Myanmar’s armed conflict, which is becoming a big challenge for ASEAN

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – July 08 Scenes

MoeMaKa, July 09, 2023

Myanmar’s armed conflict, which is becoming a big challenge for ASEAN

During the 7 months of Indonesia taking over the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has revealed that 110 meetings were held to find a resolution to the armed conflict and violence in Myanmar that occurred after the military coup. As the half-year period of ASEAN’s rotating chairmanship has passed, Indonesia has made a statement to let the international community know how much they have done.

The results and specifics of the discussions were not revealed, but according to news reports, the general diplomatic statement that these discussions are important for reducing violence and are only a way to strive for sustainable peace was made. In addition, to achieve sustainable peace, dialogue is the only comprehensive solution, so she urged other countries to support that method.


Among the 110 times of such discussions, some of the representatives from the Military Council and the Foreign Minister of the opposition National Unity Government were said to be included.


Indonesia is one of the most influential countries in ASEAN, and has a larger population and economic power in the region. It is also a country that has transformed from a military dictatorship to a democratic system. So, Indonesia is expected to be able to use its influence and experience fruitfully in the Myanmar issue. However, on the one hand, there are sometimes hints that the organizations involved in Myanmar’s political problem, or, in other words, the stakeholders, are the ones who can decide the solution to the problem. Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, who took over as the rotating chairman last year, also said words with a similar meaning.


ASEAN is an organization made up of Southeast Asian countries with a good reputation for active and capable dialogue and cooperation in regional economic cooperation, regional diplomatic affairs, development, and global strategies to avoid being exploited by major powers. ASEAN, which has been in existence for decades, is now facing a situation where it cannot move forward in dealing with the issue of escalating armed conflict and violence following the military coup in Myanmar. About 2 months after the military coup, when the leader of the military coup himself attended the meeting of ASEAN, the 5 Points Consensus of ASEAN was adopted, and the Myanmar military leader himself gave his nod. However, the fact that ASEAN has not been able to make the military leader implement these 5 Points Consensus until now has caused a bad reputation for ASEAN.


Although the political forces against the military council, such as NUG, NUCC, and CRPH, want ASEAN to implement stricter sanctions and restrictions on the military council government. However, among the ASEAN countries, there are countries like Thailand, which has established a formal government after taking over power by the military coup; Singapore, which is ruled by a dictatorial rather than democratic system; Vietnam and Laos, which are ruled by a one-party system; and Cambodia, which has an electoral system but always suppresses the opposition to the point that they are no longer able to survive, so there won’t be more serious measures to emerge from the ASEAN.


In the past decades, there has been no instance of ASEAN intervening in solving the political crisis of a country like this. Among the ASEAN member countries, there has never been a country with such a severe armed conflict, or a country fighting like a civil war. Though there are election problems, military coups, and various other problems depending on the country, it is not a condition that a large number of refugees flee to the regional countries. So, Myanmar’s crisis is said to be the biggest crisis in the region.


As punishment for the military that is currently staging military coup, some activist organizations have urged Myanmar to be expelled from ASEAN membership, but ASEAN has so far not chosen that option.


It is not clear that ASEAN does not expel Myanmar with the intention of accepting Myanmar as a member state, although it doesn’t please the military council that has seized state power. Expelling it might block all communication routes, resulting in a loss of chance to convince the Myanmar military council, as ASEAN might consider persuading the Myanmar military with half-sanctions.