Mediating local-global partnerships for development and peace in Kayin State: A case study on the role of brokers in Myanmar’s evolving ‘aid encounter’

Dr Anne Décobert1

1University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Brokers at different levels were historically central to the health and advocacy work of community-based health organisations in Kayin State. Over past decades, international and regional NGOs played a key role in enabling such organisations to access donor funding and to advocate for the rights of ethnic minority groups. In recent years, however, the changing political context in Myanmar, donors’ increased focus on linking aid to development and peacebuilding objectives, and the efforts of local actors to operationalise ‘health as a bridge to peace’ have entailed a reconfiguration of brokerage relationships. New brokers have emerged. Old brokers have taken on new roles. And assemblages bringing together diverse actors have evolved in significant ways. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research, this paper explores the role of evolving brokerage relationships in: improving health and development outcomes for marginalised communities; building a culture conducive to peace; and enabling the type of structural change that local actors contend is necessary for long-term peace and development. In investigating these issues, the paper highlights issues of power and influence in brokerage relationships and examines how systems of brokerage evolve over time within a dynamic political and aid landscape.


Anne Décobert is a Lecturer in Development Studies. Her research and teaching focus on aid regimes, conflict and peace dynamics, community development, and minority group rights in contested states. Myanmar is her main country of focus but Anne has also worked elsewhere in Southeast Asia and with Indigenous Australian communities.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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