Energy’s Vital Role in Burma’s Future
 

Only 26% of Burma’s population has access to electricity. Learn about energy’s vital role in Burma’s future in this latest DipNote entry.

Burmese Media Delegation Observes U.S. Free and Independent Press

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock poses for a photograph with a delegation of Burmese journalists at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., February 27, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Ann Stock serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Mr. Thiha Saw sits at a table in the Washington Post boardroom, listening attentively about the role of the newspaper as part of the free and independent press in the United States. As Editor in Chief of Burmese news outlet, Open News, this is another sign of Burma’s rapid transformation. Mr. Saw is one of four Burmese journalists and government officials on a Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) sponsored program designed to provide U.S. support towards fostering a vibrant media culture in Burma.

I met Mr. Saw and his colleagues last Monday, and he highlighted his longstanding connections with U.S. public diplomacy initiatives and people-to-people exchanges. As a journalist he had… more »

Burma: Hoops for Change

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara D. Sonenshine and Ambassador Than Swe pose for a photograph with Burmese youth participating in a SportsUnited exchange program at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., January 8, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Tara Sonenshine serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

They came off the bus in front of the Verizon Center in their white SportsUnited T-shirts. They were 12 Burmese basketball players — six girls, six boys and two coaches — participating in a sports exchange program that started last summer in Rangoon. Their excitement grew as they sat courtside to watch a real professional basketball game — and see the pro’s warming up beforehand. It grew even more when Washington Wizards Bradley Beal and Kevin Seraphin came over to greet them and pose for photographs.

Then they experienced the unique American pastime of a classic NBA basketball game — complete with cheerleaders, acrobats, chants, crowd applause, and… more »

U.S. Department of State Announces Basketball Sports Visitor Program with Youth from Burma

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 4, 2013


The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces that 12 Burmese youth—six boys and six girls—and two coaches will travel to the United States January 7-20. The basketball exchange program, with support from the National Basketball Association (NBA), marks the first State Department Sports Visitor program with Burma. Throughout the program, the group will learn about sports in the United States by participating in basketball clinics with their American peers and engage in educational sessions on nutrition, conflict resolution, and disability sports.

The program builds on the first-ever Sports Envoy program in Burma, that sent Charlotte Bobcats General Manager Rich Cho, former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Allison Feaster, current Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham, and former NBA player Marty Conlon to Burma as Sports Envoys in August 2012.

The basketball exchange participants, ages 15-17, will visit North Carolina to attend a Charlotte Bobcats game and take part in a clinic with Cho, who was born in Burma, and Bobcats players. In Washington, D.C., the group will attend a Washington Wizards game and meet team members.

SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ division devoted to sports diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth abroad in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity. The NBA has partnered with SportsUnited since 2005, helping to host Sports Visitors from 20 countries and sending nearly 60 current and former NBA and WNBA players and coaches to travel to more than 30 countries as Sports Envoys.

For more information, contact Anna Griffin of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, at eca-press@state.gov.

Resolving the Plight of Persecuted, Uprooted People Around the World

Afghan refugee children stand on their belonging loaded on a truck as they depart for Afghanistan at a UNHCR repatriation terminal near Quetta, Pakistan, Nov. 17, 2012. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Anne C. Richard serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

2012 was a challenging year for humanitarians trying to help displaced people around the world. The following summarizes some of the challenges addressed by the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) last year.

Inside Syria, 40,000 people have been killed and over two million are displaced. Over half a million people have fled to neighboring countries. The U.S. government (the State Department and USAID) is providing $210 million in humanitarian aid to the region, and this aid is reaching millions.

Last year, refugees fled violence and drought in Northern Mali and… more »

In Bhutan, Conserving the Natural Environment and Biodiversity

About the Author: Timothy Neely serves as Environment, Science, Technology and Health Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.

Do you know which country’s constitution promises that a minimum of 60 percent its land area will be maintained as forest for all time? Which country’s government pledges to protect, conserve, and improve the pristine environment and safeguard the biodiversity of the country; prevent pollution and ecological degradation; secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development; and ensure a safe and healthy environment? The answer is the Kingdom of Bhutan, a small Himalayan country located between China and India. Bhutan’s use of a “Gross National Happiness” index to measure progress, rather than GDP, is well-known, but fewer people know of the importance that Bhutan attaches to conserving its natural environment and biodiversity.

The Second Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation held in Thimphu, Bhutan… more »

President Obama Promises Support for the People of Burma
When President Obama arrived in Rangoon on Monday, he became the first sitting president ever to visit Burma — the Asian nation bordering Thailand, China, and Bangladesh.For nearly 50 years, from the 1962 to 2011, the country was ruled by a military junta. But over the past year and a half, reform has begun to take root."A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself," President Obama said in a speech at the University of Yangon. "The once-outlawed National League for Democracy stood in an election, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Member of Parliament. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released, and forced labor has been banned. Preliminary cease-fires have been reached with ethnic armies, and new laws allow for a more open economy."Earlier today, President Obama met with President Thein Sein — one of those… more »

President Obama Promises Support for the People of Burma

When President Obama arrived in Rangoon on Monday, he became the first sitting president ever to visit Burma — the Asian nation bordering Thailand, China, and Bangladesh.

For nearly 50 years, from the 1962 to 2011, the country was ruled by a military junta. But over the past year and a half, reform has begun to take root.

"A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself," President Obama said in a speech at the University of Yangon. "The once-outlawed National League for Democracy stood in an election, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Member of Parliament. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released, and forced labor has been banned. Preliminary cease-fires have been reached with ethnic armies, and new laws allow for a more open economy."

Earlier today, President Obama met with President Thein Sein — one of those… more »

United States-Myanmar Joint Plan on Trafficking in Persons

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 18, 2012


The Governments of the Union of Myanmar and the United States; affirming their commitment to the global effort to combat human trafficking, a modern form of slavery that afflicts both of our nations; recognizing the requirements and provisions of the UN Protocol to Suppress, Punish, and Prevent Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the 2000 UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime; acknowledging the progress made by the Government of Myanmar in addressing sex trafficking and forced labor over the last two years, particularly:

  • The repealing of the 1907 Towns and Villages Acts, which provided legal condoning of the government officials’ use forced labor;
  • The enactment of the 2012 Wards and Village Tracts Administration Act, which explicitly criminalizes all forms of forced labor;
  • The forging with the International Labor Organization (ILO) of a time-bound, comprehensive action plan to tackle forced labor in Myanmar;
  • The opening of two additional border liaison offices on the Thai border to prevent cross-border trafficking;
  • The signing of a child soldiers action plan with the United Nations that calls for the release of child soldiers from the Burmese armed forces and access to military sites and prisons to inspect for the presence of child soldiers;
  • The opening, in collaboration with the Thai government, of five Myanmar Ministry of Labor-staff migrant help centers inside Thailand; and the more robust anti-trafficking efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Home Affairs-chaired Central Body on Trafficking in Persons (CBTIP), such as the abolishment of the mandatory detention time in government shelters for trafficking victims;

And recognizing that the Union of Myanmar’s anti-trafficking efforts will be enhanced through the sharing of technical knowledge and best practices from the United States and its partners in this global effort against trafficking in persons. MORE.

Administration Eases Ban on Imports From Burma

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC


The following is the text of a joint statement by the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury:

Secretary of State Clinton announced September 26 that the United States would begin the process of easing restrictions on imports of Burmese goods in response to the substantial and significant reforms that have taken place in that country over the past year. Today, the United States has taken another step in the normalization of our bilateral economic relationship by broadly authorizing Burmese-origin goods to enter the United States for the first time in almost a decade. The government of Burma and Burmese leadership, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have expressed a desire that the import ban be eased in order to further integrate their country into the global economy.

Today’s joint actions by the Departments of State and Treasury are intended to support the Burmese government’s ongoing reform efforts and to encourage further change, as well as to offer new opportunities for Burmese and American businesses. President Thein Sein’s government has released hundreds of political prisoners, removed pre-publication censorship requirements for the press, and enacted a labor law that permits the formation of labor unions. The government has also passed a new Foreign Investment Law, and is making efforts to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. It has established ceasefire agreements with ten armed ethnic groups, is pursuing negotiations with the last major ethnic armed group that has not yet signed a ceasefire agreement, and is establishing mechanisms to work toward a sustainable ethnic reconciliation process. Steps have been taken toward democratization; the parliamentary by-elections held in April 2012 were largely free and fair, and 43 opposition party members were elected to Parliament.

In light of these positive changes, the United States is issuing a waiver and general license to ease the ban on imports into the United States of products from Burma required by section 3(a) of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 (BFDA) and implemented by Executive Order 13310 of July 28, 2003. However, as concerns about some areas of trade with respect to Burma remain, this waiver and license do not affect the existing prohibitions and restrictions on the importation of jadeite and rubies mined or extracted from Burma, and on articles of jewelry containing them, imposed by the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008, which amended the BFDA. We are committed to working with the Government of Burma to address these concerns. MORE.



Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Travels to Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia

Secretary Clinton boards plane in Beirut, Lebanon, April 26, 2009. [State Department Photo]

More: Trip Page | Interactive Travel Map

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Perth and Adelaide, Australia; Singapore; Bangkok, Thailand; Rangoon, Burma; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 11-20, 2012.

On November 11, Secretary Clinton will travel to Perth, Australia to join U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith for the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to discuss security cooperation and other regional and global issues. In Perth, Secretary Clinton will meet with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr. She will also visit the… more »