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Charles Petrie OBE (Former UN Assistant Secretary-General, former UN Resident Coordinator for Myanmar)

Dr Alessio Patalano (Reader in East Asian Warfare, Centre for Grand Strategy, Department of War Studies, KCL)

Chair: Anna Tan (Doctoral Student, School of Global Affairs, KCL)

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has known tyranny more so than it has democracy throughout its post-colonial history, with brief periods of disorderly democratic struggles. The recent coup d’etat has sent the country’s political and economic reforms into rapid turmoil, with the coup council using the old playbook of military propaganda and violent oppression from the late 1980s. However, Myanmar’s society today is vastly different from that of the previous decades, with a younger population that has seen revolutions from the Arab Springs and from across the world, having been exposed to international institutions and the internet.

In this event, the panel will explore the regional and international implications on Myanmar’s potential state collapse, which portends a very large scale humanitarian crisis and a full out civil war. Given that the current developments have also raised the possibility and calls for an international intervention, the panel will discuss what lessons the ‘international community’ could draw from the cases of Syria or Libya on how principled engagement is conducted with the Burmese military. It will also explore the implications of holding the military members accountable through the routes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as proposed by the government in exile (known as the CRPH) and its international supporters and observers.


Charles Petrie OBE is a former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. From 2003-2007, he served as the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator in Myanmar; and subsequent to leaving the UN in 2010 led the Norwegian support to the peace process in Myanmar from 2012 to 2016. Prior to Myanmar, he has previously served in numerous fragile and failing states throughout his UN career, including Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Mr. Petrie was appointed Officer of the Order of British Empire (OBE) in 2014 for his services to international peace, security and human rights.

Dr Alessio Patalano specialises in maritime strategy and doctrine, Japanese military history and strategy, East Asian Security, and Italian defence policy. From 2006 to 2015, he was visiting professor in Strategy at the Italian Naval War College (ISMM), Venice. In Japan, Dr Patalano has been a visiting professor at Aoyama Gakuin University and at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), both in Tokyo, and currently is Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University Japan and Visiting Professor at the Japan Maritime Command and Staff College (JMCSC). At KCL, Dr Patalano is the Director of the Asian Security and Warfare Research Group and, the leading UK forum for research and education on East Asia. Dr Patalano is also a senior fellow with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and at Policy Exchange, the leading think tanks on defence and security matters in the UK.

Anna Tan is a Doctoral student at the School of Global Affairs (Lau China Institute). She is also a recent Master's graduate from the School of Global Affairs and the Department of War Studies, with Distinction. Anna has previously worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on youth policy, human rights and peacebuilding. She has also worked on multi-donor aid projects during her tenure at the American Red Cross, including the Rohingya Crisis across Myanmar and Bangladesh. Her work is frequently featured in War Studies and elsewhere across the School of Security Studies. Her research is broadly focused on democracy and peacebuilding in fragile states and the influence of U.S.-China relations consequently on their viability.

At this event

Alessio Patalano

Professor of War & Strategy in East Asia

Maria Varaki

Lecturer in International Law