Burma: Time For Change

Task Force Report
Analysis and policy prescriptions of major foreign policy issues facing the United States, developed through private deliberations among a diverse and distinguished group of experts.

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Politics and Government

Burma is one of the most tightly controlled dictatorships in the world. For more than four decades, Burma’s 50 million people have been oppressed by military rulers who have systematically impoverished the country’s natural and human resources.  The country is home to a genuine democracy movement, but it is brutally suppressed by the military government. Recognizing that democracy and the National League for Democracy (led by Aung San Suu Kyi) cannot survive in Burma without the help of the United States and the international community, this report sounds a clarion call for change.

This independent Task Force report makes smart recommendations for U.S. policy toward Burma in the areas of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law; humanitarian assistance, particularly HIV/AIDS; narcotics control; and refugees.  It urges the United Nations to call for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and addresses the challenges facing the United States. Its recommendations are intended to inform U.S. government action as well as to increase U.S. cooperation with other countries to bring about a long overdue political, economic, and social transformation in Burma. “The Burmese regime has repeatedly broken its promises to begin substantive dialogue with the democratic opposition,” said Task Force Chair Mathea Falco. “It is time for the UN and the international community to take action.”

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Politics and Government

Task Force Members

Task Force Members:

MAUREEN AUNG-THWIN is director of the Burma Project/Southeast Asia Initiative of the Open Society Institute, which is part of the Soros Foundations Network. She currently serves on the advisory boards of Human Rights Watch/Asia and the Burma Studies Foundation, which oversees the Center for Burma Studies at Northern Illinois University.

JANET BENSHOOF is a human rights lawyer and the recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Award. She is also the president emerita and founder of an international human rights organization, the Center for Reproductive Rights (formerly the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy). Currently she is teaching and working internationally on legal projects involving political equality, gender, security, and democracy issues.

GEORGE C. BIDDLE is senior vice president of the International Rescue Committee. Previously, he was vice president of the International Crisis Group and president of the Institute for Central American Studies.

ROBERT CARSWELL is counsel to Shearman and Sterling. From 1977 to 1981, he was deputy secretary of the Treasury under President Carter and also served as chairman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

BOWMAN CUTTER is managing director at Warburg Pincus.

MATHEA FALCO is a chair of the Task Force, as well as president of Drug Strategies, a nonprofit research institute, and associate professor of public health at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. She served as assistant secretary of state for international narcotics matters from 1977 to 1981.

DIANNE FEINSTEIN is the senior U.S. senator from California. In 1992, she was elected with the most votes cast for a senator in U.S. history. She is the first woman to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee and is the ranking member of the Technology and Terrorism Subcommittee and a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

ADRIENNE GERMAIN is president of the International Women’s Health Coalition and has worked for 30 years on women’s economic opportunities, health, and rights in southern countries. She is a member of the Asia and women’s rights advisory committees of Human Rights Watch and of the Millennium Development Goals Project Task Force on Child Mortality and Maternal Health.

DAVID L. GOLDWYN is president of Goldwyn International Strategies, LLC, an international consulting firm, and teaches the geopolitics of energy at Georgetown and Columbia Universities. He was assistant secretary of energy for international affairs and U.N. Ambassador Richardson’s deputy on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.

DONALD GREGG served in Burma with the U.S. embassy from 1964 to 1966. He was ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 1989 to 1993 and is now chairman of the Korea Society.

JAMES B. HEIMOWITZ is president and chief executive officer of JBH Consulting Group, Inc., a New York–based consulting company that provides advice to Asia.

J. WILLIAM ICHORD is vice president of government and international relations for the Unocal Corporation. In this position, he works on policy issues relevant to Southeast Asia and is an extensive traveler to the region.

EDWARD KLEIN is a contributing editor of Vanity Fair and a columnist for Parade magazine. Formerly, he was editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine. The author of two New York Times nonfiction best-sellers, he published a new book, The Kennedy Curse, in July 2003.

JOSHUA KURLANTZICK is foreign editor of The New Republic. Prior to working for The New Republic, Kurlantzick covered international politics and economics for U.S. News and World Report and has also covered Southeast Asia for The Economist.

TOM LANTOS was elected to his twelfth term in the U.S House of Representatives in November 2002. He was first elected to Congress in November 1980. In 2001, he became the ranking Democratic member of the International Relations Committee. He is the only survivor of the Holocaust ever elected to Congress.

RICHARD LUGAR is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was elected to his fifth term in the Senate in 2000. He has been a leader in reducing the threat of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. To date, the Nunn-Lugar program has deactivated over 6,000 warheads that were once aimed at the United States.

TOM MALINOWSKI is the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. He was a senior director at the National Security Council from 1998 to 2001 and served at the State Department from 1994 to 1998.

MITCH MCCONNELL is the U.S. Senate Majority Whip and chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

ROBERT B. MILLMAN is the Saul P. Steinberg distinguished professor of psychiatry and public health at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He is director of alcohol and substance abuse services at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and currently is chairman of the Board of Drug Strategies.

ARYEH NEIER is president of the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network. He previously served as executive director of Human Rights Watch.

MARY ANNE SCHWALBE is the former executive director of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children and serves on the board of the International Rescue Committee in the United Kingdom.

BROOKE L. SHEARER is a consultant. She was the first executive director of Yale University’s World Fellows Program, directed the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, and initiated programs with the U.S. government and the World Bank to help emerging nations develop national parks and historical sites.

GEORGE SOROS is chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC, a private investment management firm, and the founder of the Soros Foundations Network, a consortium of philanthropic organizations active in more than 50 countries. He is the author of seven books, most recently George Soros on Globalization.

DAVID I. STEINBERG is distinguished professor and director of Asian studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is the author of four books and 45 articles on Burma/Myanmar, the latest book being Burma: The State of Myanmar. He has also written extensively on Korean affairs.

ROSE STYRON is a poet, journalist, and human rights activist who has chaired Amnesty International’s National Advisory Council, PEN’s Freedom-to-Write Committee, and the Robert F.Kennedy Human Rights Awards.

MONA SUTPHEN is managing director of Stonebridge International LLC. As a Foreign Service officer, she served at the National Security Council as special assistant to National Security Adviser Samuel Berger and as an adviser to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson. She also worked extensively on Burmese policy issues during stints with the U.S. embassy in Bangkok.

KENNETH WOLLACK is president of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

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