The 2023 Myanmar Update aims to understand, celebrate, and explicate the Myanmar people’s resistance to the 1 February 2021 coup. The military’s violent crackdown on what was initially a peaceful popular uprising provoked a near-countrywide revolutionary movement, which has brought together an array of different political, ethnic, and religious groups fighting for the shared goal of ending military rule. While differences exist in objectives and strategies, the establishment of organisations like the National Unity Government (NUG) and the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), as well as the numerous other formal and informal alliances, has arguably created an unprecedented sense of unity among Myanmar’s diverse peoples and raised widespread hope that this time the struggle may succeed.    

The conference seeks to explore the complexities of the revolutionary struggle; the effects of the coup on the state and economy; and, the myriad ways in which the people in Myanmar are coping with deepening violence and poverty.

  • How has the coup and the popular response to it reshaped Myanmar politics?
  • How are new armed groups forming, and how are they sustained?
  • What has happened to the civil disobedience movement?
  • What are the social, economic, and psychological implications of continued violence?
  • How is the diaspora contributing to the revolution?
  • How can foreign governments and the international aid community best support resistance to dictatorship?

We aim to address these kinds of questions, among others, in this conference.

The conference will take place at The Australian National University on Friday 21 July – Saturday 22 July 2023.

The two-day conference will feature scholars and experts from Australia, Myanmar, UK, North America and around the regions.

There are also pre-conference events on Thursday 20 July that we will list on our conference program with more information:

Convening Committee

  • Cecile Medail - Visiting Fellow, Department of Political and Social Change, ANU,
  • Morten Pedersen - Board member, Myanmar Research Centre, ANU,
  • Yuri Takahashi - Lecturer and Convenor of the Burmese Program, ANU,
  • Samuel Hmung - Research Officer, Myanmar Research Centre, ANU,


The 2023 ANU Myanmar Update is supported by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, the International Development Research Centre, Canada, the International IDEA, and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Conference Participation

We would love for you to join us in person, in the Auditorium, Australian Centre on China in the World Building #188 on the ANU Campus, on Friday 21 July and Saturday 22 July. 

The 2023 Myanmar Update will be live streamed via Zoom Events. Please note no Q&A from the online audience, and some sessions are in-person only, we apologies for this inconvenience.

Please register in-person and online tickets via Zoom Events. You will get both in-person and online tickets via Zoom Events. If you have any queries, or need assistance to register in the Zoom Eevents platform, please let us know. Email: 


Free of charge

  • Reception for the launch of exhibition and guest lecture (20 July 2023)
  • Pre-conference dinner for speakers, chairs and invited guests (20 July 2023)
  • Conference reception (21 July 2023)
  • Morning tea and afternoon tea (21 July 2023)
  • Afternoon tea (22 July 2023)
  • Lunch for speakers, chairs and organisers (21-22 July 2023)

Fees for general participants

  • Conference lunch (21 & 22 July) is proudly provided by the Australia Mon Association in Canberra: $10 per meal for participant.


Pre-conference Events (Thursday 20 July)

8.30am-4.30pm Early Career Researcher workshop (by invitation)

4.30-5pm Launch of Myanmar Update photo exhibition by Mayco Naing (Artist and Curator)

Venue: Auditorium Foyer, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Introduction by exhibition curator Mayco Naing
  • Photo exhibition by Mauk Kham Wah and Mayco Naing
  • Video documentary -1 minute per day in the 60 days following the coup by M. (screening all day on 21-22 July only, CIW seminar room)

5-5.30pm Refreshments (for exhibition and guest address)

5.30-6.30pm Guest Lecture - De-‘Area Studies’-izing Burmese History: the African (and African American) ‘Burma” Experience in the Twentieth Century

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Michael Charney, SOAS, University of London

7-8.30pm Preconference Dinner (by invitation) 

Day 1 (Friday 21 July)

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

9-9.30am Welcome

  • Welcome to the Country by Paul Girrawah House, First Nations Portfolio, ANU
  • Opening remarks by Helen Sullivan, Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

9.30-10.30am Keynote Address 

Chair: Nick Cheesman, ANU

  • H.E. Zin Mar Aung, Minister of Foreign Affairs, National Unity Government of the Union of Myanmar (online)
  • Discussant: Tun Aung Shwe, Representative to Australia of the National Unity Government of the Union of Myanmar

10.30-10.45am Morning Tea

10.45am-12.45pm Political Update

Chair: Andrew Selth, Griffith University

  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Ye Myo Hein, Wilson Center (online)

12.45-1.45pm Lunch Break

1.45- 3.15pm Panel 1: The Revolutionary Movement

Chair: George Lawson, ANU

  • Samuel Hmung and Michael Dunford, Australian National University - “Understanding Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement”
  • Ellen, McMaster University, Canada - “Women's agency in armed struggles in Myanmar's Spring Revolution”
  • Lukas Nagel, Griffith University - “Creative resistance and nationalism among youth activists in post-coup Myanmar”

3.15-3.30pm Afternoon Tea

3.30-5pm Panel 2: Revolutionary Governance

Chair: Jane Ferguson, ANU

  • Gerard McCarthy and Kyle Nyana, Erasmus University - “Governing revolution: Post-coup insurgent social order in Chin State and Sagaing Region” (online)
  • Tay Zar Myo Win, Deakin University - “Emerging local governance in Anyar”
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute - "Reimagining the goals of the Spring Revolution"

5-6.30pm Conference Reception (In-person only)

Venue: Auditorium Foyer, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

  • Promotion of Art Exhibition: How to quantify FEAR? by artist and curator Mayco Naing 

Day 2 (Saturday 22 July)

Venue: Auditorium, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

9.30-10.00am Book Launch: "Myanmar in Crisis" (In-person only)

  • Book author: Michael Dunford, Australian National University 
  • Discussant: Cecilia Jacob, Australian National University 

Book Sale - A limited number of books are available for sale for AUD $25 (card only).

10am-12pm Economic Update and Humanitarian Issues 

Chair: Paul Burke, ANU

  • Jared Bissinger, Independent analyst
  • Tom Kean, International Crisis Group
  • Anne Décobert, and Tamas Wells, University of Melbourne -“Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis and the conflict paradox for local aid organisations"

12-1pm Lunch Break

1-3pm Policy Panel & Closing Remarks (In-person only)

Chair: Morten Pedersen, UNSW Canberra 

  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute
  • Jared Bissinger, Independent analyst
  • Representative, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

3-3.15pm Afternoon Tea

3.15-4.45pm Burmese Language Roundtable: "Researching and reporting in post-coup Myanmar" (In-person only)

Venue: Seminar Room, Australia Centre on China in the World Building 188, Fellows Lane, ANU

Chair: Samuel Hmung, ANU

  • Swe Win, Myanmar Now 
  • Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Khin Zaw Win, Tampadipa Institute


မြန်မာဘာသာ စကားဝိုင်း၊ “အာဏာသိမ်းပြီးမြန်မာနိုင်ငံတွင် သုတေသနပြုလုပ်ခြင်းနှင့် သတင်းတင်ဆက်ခြင်း”

သဘာပတိ - Samuel Hmung (ANU)

  • ဦးဆောင်ဆွေးနွေးသူ - Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung (University of Massachusetts Lowell)ဆွေဝင်း (Myanmar Now)၊ ခင်ဇော်ဝင်း (Tampadipa Institute)

This 2023 John Gee Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Professor Toni Erskine. 

War is changing rapidly – and with it the challenge of ensuring that restraint is exercised in both the resort to force and its conduct. Lethal autonomous weapons systems are able to select and engage targets, with and without human authorisation. Algorithms that rely on big data analytics and machine learning recommend targets for drone strikes and will increasingly infiltrate state-level decision-making on whether to wage war. The spectre of future iterations of these intelligent machines surpassing human capacities, and escaping human control, has recently received a surge in attention as an approaching existential threat. Yet, this future-focused fear obscures a grave and insidious challenge that is already here.

A neglected danger that already-existing AI-enabled weapons and decision-support systems pose is that they change how we (as citizens, soldiers, and states) deliberate, how we act, and how we view ourselves as responsible agents. This has potentially profound ethical, political, and even geo-political implications – well before AI evolves to a point where some fear that it could initiate algorithmic Armageddon. Professor Erskine will argue that our reliance on AI-enabled and automated systems in war threatens to create the perception that we have been displaced as the relevant decision-makers and may therefore abdicate our responsibilities to intelligent machines. She will conclude by asking how these risks might, in turn, affect hard-won international norms of restraint – and how they can be mitigated.

About the speaker

Toni Erskine is Professor of International Politics in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at The Australian National University (ANU) and Associate Fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at Cambridge University. She is also Chief Investigator of the Defence-funded ‘Anticipating the Future of War: AI, Automated Systems, and Resort-to-Force Decision Making’ Research Project and a Founding Member and Chief Investigator of the ‘Humanising Machine Intelligence’ Grand Challenge at ANU. She serves as Academic Lead for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP)/Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) ‘AI for the Social Good’ Research Project and in this capacity works closely with government departments in Thailand and Bangladesh. Her research interests include the impact of new technologies (particularly AI) on organised violence; the moral agency and responsibility of formal organisations in world politics; the ethics of war; the responsibility to protect vulnerable populations from mass atrocity crimes (‘R2P’); and the role of joint purposive action and informal coalitions in response to global crises. She is currently completing a book entitled Locating Responsibility: Institutional Moral Agency in a World of Existential Threats and is the recipient of the International Studies Association’s 2024 International Ethics Distinguished Scholar Award.


About John Gee

Dr John Gee AO served with distinction as an Australian diplomat in a number of countries. His greatest contribution, however, was in the field of disarmament, where he had a particular interest in chemical weapons. After a period as a Commissioner on the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq following the first Gulf War, he became Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, serving there until 2003. In recognition of his achievements, Dr Gee was made a member of the Order of Australia in January 2007. Gee leaves behind a legacy and a memory of a great Australian.

If you require accessibility accommodations or a visitor Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan please contact the event organiser.

Workshop with Prof Stephan Fruehling, LtCol James Groves, staff from the Army’s Research Centre and your fellow ANU researchers, for a light lunch and a brainstorming workshop focusing on the research priorities for the Australian Army Research Centre’s (AARC) Fellowship program, and other research grants available through Army.

You are warmly invited to join a workshop exploring the relevance of your research for the research priorities of the Australian Army, and relevant funding opportunities.

  • DATE: Thursday 19 Oct 2023
  • TIME: 12 - 2pm
  • VENUE: Canberry-Springbank Room in the J.G. Crawford Building, Building #1332, Lennox Crossing, ANU, Acton, ACT 2601.
  • WHO SHOULD ATTEND: ANU academics who would like to explore research collaboration opportunities with the Australian Army.

You may never have considered your research to be of interest and value to Army. Army's main research challenges: (see the attached research priorities document for more information)

  • Advise and assist
  • mobilization
  • littoral manoeuvre
  • power and energy
  • quantum
  • autonomy and counter-autonomy

have wide-ranging implications that cover many disciplines across HASS and STEM; call for deep regional studies as well as conceptual underpinnings; and can benefit from comparative as well as direct approaches.  

Army regularly offers research grants, and ANU and the Army Research Centre are cooperating in an exciting fellowship program, through which ANU staff can spend time working with ARC staff in an Army context to generate highly relevant and impactful research and build enduring networks (see attached flyer). 

You are warmly invited to join fellow ANU researchers from across campus to participate in a workshop exploring how your own research is relevant to these topics, and explore research cooperation opportunities across campus and with Army.

The workshop will be led by: LtCol James Groves, National Security College (NSC); Prof Stephan Fruehling, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC); as well as staff from the Australian Army Research Centre (AARC).

SHARE: Please share this invitation widely - your networks of fellow researchers from both HASS and STEM backgrounds are very welcome to join us.

REGISTER: Please register on this link, no later than Friday 13 October 2023. 

Further information:

How best should key strategic partners in Asia and Europe meet their future defence and security needs in a world that offers less policy space and more complex problems? This project examines four significant cases – Japan, Singapore, Germany, and the UK – which share many contemporary security challenges.

How best should key strategic partners in Asia and Europe meet their future defence and security needs in a world that offers less policy space and more complex problems?

This project examines four significant cases – Japan, Singapore, Germany, and the UK – which share many contemporary security challenges.

The launch event will feature a roundtable discussion with the project leads and their country rapporteurs presenting their findings about how those countries mobilise power and exercise statecraft within a world that gives them less control over the outcomes they want to achieve.


  • Professor Jochen Prantl, ANU
  • Professor Evelyn Goh, ANU
  • Professor Sven Biscop, Egmont–Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Dr. Yusuke Ishihara, National Institute for Defence Studies
  • Mr. Paul Chamberlain, ANU

Event Speakers

Jochen Prantl joined ANU in November 2013.

Evelyn Goh is the Shedden Professor of Strategic Policy Studies at the Australian National University, where she is also Research Director at the Strategic & Defence Studies Ce

Paul Chamberlain
PhD Scholar

Paul Chamberlain is a PhD scholar at The Australian National University, located at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

Professor Sven Biscop

Professor Sven Biscop

Egmont-Royal Institute for International Relations

Yusuke Ishihara

Dr Yusuke Ishihara

Senior Fellow, Global Security Division
National Institute for Defense Studies

You are warmly invited to the launch of Defence Industry in 'National Defence': Rethinking the Future of Australian Defence Industry Policy.

You are warmly invited to the launch of

Defence Industry in 'National Defence': Rethinking the Future of Australian Defence Industry Policy

Building the Australian defence industry is critical for our national security in a geopolitically contested era. But our current paradigm for defence industry was built in a different era, and needs to be updated to reflect our contemporary environment.

This report examines how Australia should reframe defence industry policy by drawing lessons from five peer countries: Sweden, France, the UK, Israel and Canada.

While facing different strategic circumstances, their experiences illustrate how the possession of an independent but internationally linked defence industry is itself an asset during a period where the risk of major conflict is rising.

Their experiences offer pertinent lessons for Australia. This report identifies several factors that shape effective policy, argues that a fundamental rethink of Australian defence policy is required, and offers five recommendations.


  • Innes Willox, CEO, Australian Industry Group
  • Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor, ANU
  • Kate Louis, Executive Director, Defence Council, Australian Industry Group
  • Professor Stephan Frühling, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU
  • Chaired by Professor Helen Sullivan, Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific.



  • DATE: Monday 18 Dec 2023 
  • TIME: 10 - 11am
  • VENUE: Cinema, Kambri Cultural Centre, The Australian National University, 153 Tangney Rd, Acton, ACT 2601.

The launch will be followed by morning tea.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Scholars, graduate students, policymakers and practitioners working in the fields of Defence and Strategic Studies.

SHARE: You are very welcome to share this invitation with your colleagues and networks in industry government, the APS and academia.


REGISTER: Please register your attendance here, no later than Wednesday 13 December 2023.


This event is cohosted by the Australian Industry Group (AIG) and the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU.

Image: HMAS Arunta and Naval Ship Management personnel on board the ship during its docking scheduled refit at Garden Island Defence Precinct, Sydney. Credit: Defence Imagery, LSIS Susan Mossop.

Event Speakers

Innes Willox, CEO, Australian Industry Group

Innes Willox

He joined AIG in ‘08 as Director of Government Affairs and became CEO in '18. He has served as Australian Consul General to Los Angeles and was Chief of Staff to the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Alexander Downer. Previously a journalist at The Age as Chief of Staff (Melb) & Chief Political Correspondent (CBR).

Professor Brian P. Schmidt

Professor Brian P. Schmidt, AC FAA FRS

Vice-Chancellor, ANU
Brian Schmidt is one of Australia's most eminent scientists. Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, he spent most of his academic career as an astrophysicist before becoming VC. He makes a significant contribution to public debate via media, and through bodies incl. the PM’s National Science & Technology Council.

Kate Louis, AIG

Kate Louis

Executive Director, Ai Group Defence Council
Kate joined AIG in 2017 following an extensive career in the Department of Defence gaining experience in Defence capability development, acquisition, contestability and industry policy, finishing as First Assistant Secretary of the Defence Industry Policy Division.

Professor Stephan Frühling teaches and researches at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of The Australian National University and has widely published on Australian defence policy, defence pl

Helen Sullivan is a public policy researcher, teacher, advisor, and senior university leader.

While rentierism, tactical politics and coercion can come together to strengthen a regime, that is not necessarily a given. In the Iraq case, rentierism and effects from political decision-making led to an increased reliance on coercion by ruling regimes to maintain power.

Drawing upon literature on rentier state theory, the politics of survival, and the role of coercion in state consolidation as well as the author’s experience in Iraq, this thesis addresses the question of how resource dependency, elite strategies to gain or maintain control, and coercion have shaped state cohesion in Iraq?

Given the broad academic interest in the persistence of authoritarianism in different country contexts and the effects of international intervention, the contribution of this thesis is its integration of different theories to allow for a richer discussion regarding how elite competition and international intervention can impact state development.



John D. Moore
With over 20 years of experience across the Islamic world serving in a mix of development, security as well as energy sector roles, John’s research interests focus on the relationship between resource dependent economies, politics, security, and development outcomes.

Having first engaged on Iraq during the 1997-1998 period while with the US Department of Defense, he spent several years working on and living in the country during the 2003 – 2012 period. John is currently pursuing his doctoral degree, having earned a Masters Degree in Political Economy and International Security Studies from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from the Virginia Military Institute.


Join via Zoom link
Meeting ID: 867 1834 3082
Password: 198184

Monty Pounder examines Indonesia's pursuit of military power, exploring factors driving acceleration and the contestation process.

In 2019, Indonesia’s newly re-elected president Joko Widodo installed his then-rival Prabowo Subianto as defence minister – arguably the most powerful figure in that role in the democratic era. Subianto seemed to breathe life into long-held goals for Indonesia to build the conventional power necessary for it to project force over its vast maritime domain. Subianto’s ambitious bid to upgrade the country’s military capabilities included at least a dozen major contracts for air and naval platforms from foreign suppliers.

Subianto’s achievements, however, fell short of what he had originally sought. He had proposed more than doubling the military’s budget. Yet the overall defence budget remained low throughout his term. Public comments by the President and Finance Minister suggested their resistance to his proposed agenda. His legacy, therefore, is unclear and will in some respects be at the mercy of Indonesia’s next government.

This PhD proposes to take Subianto’s term as defence minister as the starting point for an examination of Indonesia’s acquisition of major military capabilities. The research proposes to engage with the acquisition process from two perspectives. What were the local and systemic factors that help explain Indonesia’s decision to dramatically accelerate its pursuit of externally oriented military capabilities? What was the process of contestation that, at least in the example of Subianto’s term, ultimately constrained the realisation of these policies?

The study will contrast events between Widodo’s two terms in reference to broader patterns in Indonesian history. The tenure of Subianto’s predecessor (who boasted of never seeking to import military equipment) offers a striking counterpoint that will help draw out the changes and continuities at play in Indonesian defence policy and international posture more broadly.

About the Speaker  
Monty Pounder commenced a PhD program as a Sir Roland Wilson Scholar in 2023. Monty is at ANU on leave from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His last role at DFAT was Deputy Head of Mission in Baghdad and he has also served overseas in Jakarta and New York.


Zoom link 
Meeting ID: 878 8316 8602
Passcode: 297892

There are recurrent debates in strategic studies that go back to Antiquity, before the word “strategy” even assumed its modern meanings.

They concern the role of chance, the role of higher forces (God, historical inevitability, having justice on one’s side…), the predictability of the outcome of battles and wars, and more recently, the nature of future wars. A key debate pitting the Clausewitzian School against Social Science Positivism but also against those interested mainly in International Relations Theories can also be traced back over the centuries: can strategic studies provide “principles of war” or prescriptions, or can they serve only to reflect on wars in general and a particular war so as to educate the minds of leaders who will have to judge and decide for themselves on what to do in each situation?

Beatrice Heuser is the Jeffrey Grey Visiting Professor at the Australian War College. She holds the Chair in IR at the University of Glasgow. She previously taught at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London; then at the University of Reading. She has also taught at French and German universities (most recently the universities of Sorbonne and Paris Panthéon-Assas, and at Sciences Po’ Paris). From 1997-1998 she worked at NATO HQ in Brussels. She holds degrees from the Universities of London (BA, MA), Oxford (DPhil), Marburg (Habilitation).

Her publications include The Evolution of Strategy (2010), Reading Clausewitz (2002), Strategy before Clausewitz (2017), with Eitan Shamir (eds) Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies: National Styles and Strategic Cultures (2017) and, most recently, WAR: A Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices (2022). She has also worked for the Bundeswehr, most recently lecturing at its General Staff College (Führungsakademie) in Hamburg, is a Senior Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institution, and a Visiting Fellow at the Royal Navy Strategic Studies Centre.

It is only natural that we see the ‘new Cold War’ through the lens of the old one. But how far is the new Cold War against China like the old one against the Soviet Union?

Today’s policies in Washington, Canberra and elsewhere are based on specific views of both the similarities and differences - views that underpin the prevailing optimism about how the contest will play out, and who will win.

In this lecture, Hugh will offer a different view of the similarities and differences which suggest that optimism about this new Cold War is misplaced.