The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.

Challenges: From 1962 to 2011, Burma was ruled by a military-led government that isolated the country from the rest of the world. Burma’s economy is extremely under-developed, its civilian institutions are weak, and the criminal justice system is broken. Burma’s population has suffered from decades of severe poverty, discrimination, and a lack of access to government services. The country has also been severely threatened by and vulnerable to its growing narcotics problem which has contributed to a rise in criminal activity. Recognizing the need for large-scale reform, the military began ceding power to civilian authorities in 2010 by holding the country’s first general election in 20 years.

Goals: INL programs aim to increase Burma’s capacity to prevent and combat the cultivation, trafficking, and use of drugs throughout the country. By working with civilian law enforcement and justice institutions, INL aspires to increase the institutional capacity of the criminal justice system to combat national and transnational crime and promote the rule of law.

Accomplishments: With a program beginning in 2013 and centered in large part on countering the transit and domestic consumption of counternarcotics, INL supported an assessment of drug use throughout Burma, and provides capacity building for the Burma’s Drug Enforcement Division (DED). INL funds the training of drug treatment professionals and the development of creative drug awareness campaigns in Shan State. Together with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), INL is supporting a long-term, in-country training program to build the capacity of Burma’s DED. In 2014, INL began providing training opportunities for Burmese law enforcement at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok (ILEA) as well as training exchanges. In 2018, INL, DEA, and the Department of Justice Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT), launched the Transnational Crime Program in partnership with the Union Attorney General’s Office. It is two year training and mentorship program that targets building capacity to handle narcotics trafficking, money laundering, cybercrime, and trafficking in persons cases.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future