The support of the training of young Myanmar diplomats is of great importance, as it can be essential in overcoming Myanmar's legacy of international isolation. A continuous exchange and cooperation with other countries is an important step to re-integrate Myanmar into the world community. For this reason, it is particularly important for the young diplomats to get in touch with the international community as early in their careers as possible. During the study visit, participants had the opportunity to learn first-hand about various workflows and political processes which gave them a different perspective of things than the official sources on which they otherwise rely. A young democracy like Myanmar has to rely on young, critical and open-minded people who are empowered and encouraged to make decisions and help shape the political future of their country. Shaping the education of diplomats towards these values is one of the priorities of FES in Myanmar.
On the first day the young diplomats were able to participate in the 74th Commission Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). Afterwards the delegation was given a guided tour through the UNESCAP library, where the staff presented their various on-site services and gave an introduction into the online research services of the UN. This was followed by several briefing sessions by UNESCAP staff as well as by representatives from United Nations Environment (UNEP) and United Nations for South – South Cooperation (UNOSCC).
The second day started with a lecture on “Current political dynamics in Thailand” at Chulalongkorn University, followed by a tour of the campus. After lunch, the delegation headed off to visit the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. Since this is the biggest and busiest Myanmar mission abroad, it is a place where many of the delegates could eventually end up working during their future career development. They had a briefing on the day-to-day running of the embassy by the Deputy Chief of Mission and learned a lot about the daily life of a diplomat abroad.
Day three saw the participants visiting another political science faculty: This time at Thammasat University where they had a lecture on “ASEAN+3 Relations and Dynamics” and a political study tour around the campus. The tour guides gave an insight into the history of the University, which repeatedly served as a venue for pro-democracy protests. For the cultural component to not be neglected, a visit to the Grand Palace was organized afterwards.
Participants were also able to catch a glimpse of rural Thailand on day four, when the delegation visited the Khao Hin Sorn Royal Development Centre in Chaocheongsao province. The Development Centre runs programs on the basis of sustainable self-sufficiency and provides training to the rural communities and local farmers.
On the last day, the young delegates were finally able to meet their counterparts in the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). They engaged in a vivid exchange of experiences in their career so far and used the opportunity to establish contacts to other future diplomats. In addition to that, the Thai Foreign Ministry gave a presentation on the relations between Thailand and Myanmar, whose 70th anniversary is being celebrated this year. The final agenda point was a visit to the Devawongse Varopakarn Institute of Foreign Affairs (DVIFA), where the participants got an insight into how the institute trains its future diplomats and also provide tailored briefing programs for other ministerial officials. This was a particularly valuable input, since a proper, modern training system of diplomats and other public servants is still evolving in Myanmar.
After five intense days, the participants returned to their workplaces in the various departments of the Foreign Ministry in Myanmar, where the impressions and views gained during the study trip will be shared and thus contribute to the political education in their respective departments.