Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Role of Internationals in Progressing Human Rights Attainment in Myanmar

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Version 2 2023-09-22, 01:20
Version 1 2021-12-07, 10:26
posted on 2023-09-22, 01:20 authored by Dowall, Heidi

State crimes such as the violation of human rights eclipse all other forms of violent crime in scale and seriousness. International agents can play a key role in challenging state crimes and building the necessary supports for human rights to progress. However, the political climate of realpolitik, which bases decision-making on state-interest rather than moral premise, significantly complicates any international interventions. Against this backdrop, human rights are often compromised to fulfill economic, strategic or political motives, giving rise to cultures of mistrust.  The case of Myanmar presents an opportunity to advance thinking about preventing state crimes and the ‘costs’ associated with advancing human rights norms. Transitioning states like Myanmar, where the military maintain a dominant role in government, demonstrate that human rights must be flexibly engaged. This thesis shows that while human rights played a key role in catalysing the transition, they became a liability once the transition began. In this context, internationals saw that human rights reform depends upon building relationships and creating opportunities for the redistribution of power and legitimacy through compliance rather than coercion, especially given the role of the military. This requires a long-term strategy by internationals that is socio-culturally responsive and politically attuned.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-NC 4.0

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Stanley, Elizabeth