Policy Workshop Class Goes to Myanmar
As a part of the WWS policy workshop, “Elections in Fragile States,” I got an opportunity to travel with nine of my classmates to Myanmar to assess the preparations for the upcoming elections. The 2015 elections are critical to Myanmar’s democratic transition, and it was an incredible opportunity for us to observe this critical juncture in Myanmar’s history. We met a range of stakeholders, including the Government Union Election Commission, domestic civil society, international non-governmental organizations, political parties and international donors. We were able to quiz them about their expectations, hopes and fears. We also had the opportunity to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of the National League for Democracy and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Our visit ended withus presenting our initial conclusions to the U.S.Ambassador to Myanmar.
The class itself is led by Professor Jeffery Fischer, a policy practitioner with rich and extensive experience supporting electoral processes in a number of post-conflict societies including Bosnia and Herzegovina, East Timor, Kosovo and Iraq. We learned about election management bodies, electoral systems, observation and vulnerabilities around malpractice and violence for several months before visiting Myanmar to observe preparations for a real election. Our visit was fully funded by the generosity of the Woodrow Wilson School, and we are grateful and delighted in equal measure to get this opportunity.