Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Thurber, Ches

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Since the resurgence of Rakhine State's conflict in 2017, and the resulting 750,000 refugees, Myanmar has received increased scrutiny by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). However, some of Myanmar's ethnic conflicts have been continuous since independence in 1948, and thus begs the question: what explains the difference in attention? Three analytical lenses will be utilized to examine UNSC behavior: Bureaucratic Institutionalism, Geopolitics, and the null hypothesis of sheer Magnitude. In the end, it appears Institutionalism has come out as the strongest driver of Council action escalation on Myanmar. For Kayin’s low action period, it met two of the conditions for Magnitude which would predict increased Council action, but no action resulted, and no Geopolitical nor Institutional conditions were met. However, once the Institutional conditions were met--despite Magnitudinal expectations reverting back to no expected action--Council action escalated into the high action period, to the point of China and Russia jointly vetoing a resolution for the first time in Council history. The case of Rakhine further proves this argument, as it fulfills two of Institutionalism’s three conditions--the same as Kayin’s high action period. However, the longer-sustained and greater action witnessed on Rakhine is owed to the main difference: magnitude. Rakhine meeting the Magnitudinal expectations--whereas Kayin failed--best explains the differences in action between the two cases.


96 pages




Northern Illinois University

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