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“Problem State” Myanmar: Stable Authoritarianism, Social Crisis and the Dilemma of the International Community


  • Marco Bünte


Myanmar is a “problem state”, a state that is challenged by the multiple problems of weak statehood, contested legitimacy and bad governance. While internal legitimacy is weak, the international community does not know how to react to this problem in a coherent way. Western states follow a sanction policy, regional neighbors China and India fight for economic influence in Myanmar. The protests of monks in September again illustrated the dilemma of the international community. Internally, the military is still the most powerful force acting in a unified and coherent way. The military still suppresses every form of dissent and allows no avenues for protest. While the international community is divided about the general approach towardsMyanmar, the UN pressure (backed by China and ASEAN) opened a window of opportunity for national reconciliation. The room for action, however, is restricted by the deep distrust among major political actors, the military, ethnic groups and the opposition.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Bünte, 2007. "“Problem State” Myanmar: Stable Authoritarianism, Social Crisis and the Dilemma of the International Community," Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 26(6), pages 31-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:soaktu:v:15:y:2007:i:6:p:31-49

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