Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Udi Butler


While it is acknowledged that public participation in the policy-making process is a cornerstone of democracy, it is unclear how this takes shape in transitioning democracies. Myanmar is currently transitioning from over five decades of military rule to a civilian-led, democratically-elected government. Consequently, public space has opened up, allowing Myanmar citizens to express their opinions and needs vis-à-vis policies in multiple sectors and to engage with policymakers. The majority of these advocacy efforts has been spearheaded by civil society actors, who have been supporting citizens in expressing themselves and facilitating opportunities for direct engagement. This paper is a case study of a Myanmar civil society organization’s ongoing policy advocacy initiative. It aims to contribute to the existing body of knowledge on how civil society actors work to influence policy in sensitive political contexts. The researcher examined program documents and interviewed various program stakeholders and civil society actors to gain insight into the advocacy context, the advocates, the policy issues, the politics/decision-makers, and the advocacy strategies deployed by the initiative. The evidence suggests initial expectations were high for engagement with the civilian administration. Due to unforeseen changes in the policy-making context, it has been harder to make inroads than expected. This case study indicates one primary factor for success is relationship-building among all concerned stakeholders, particularly engagement with state actors by civil society actors. Furthermore, alliances among civil society actors advance the advocacy agenda further. Finally, citizen voice is important in sensitive political environments, particularly in a transitioning democracy like Myanmar, where civil society organizations are not fully trusted.


Development Studies