As Myanmar's nationwide ceasefire negotiations continue, peace in many formerly war-torn regions has allowed state-run lifesaving services to gradually expand. But their provision is intensely politicized, and carefully crafted access strategies are vital, experts warn.
How else should we be advising Myanmar now so its version of democracy isn't derailed in the future? Here are three pieces of advice that the US and other foreign actors should offer Myanmar's government to help create a stable, more inclusive society:
I've never really thought much about jade. Perhaps it's because in New York (where I currently reside) there are thousands of jade bracelets for sale on almost every street corner for around $5. But I was schooled hard in Mandalay, Myanmar, where I hit the world-famous jade market.
Like the the Atlantis of lore, the digital-diplomat is not tethered to any hemisphere but rather links to the superiority of knowledge and empathy over geography and ideology.
In Burma, if one were to mention "the election" on the street this morning, the listener would likely not conjure up concern for the productivity and potential of Obama's final two years holding office, but rather of the possibility of Aung San Suu Kyi holding it and being able to create durable and sustainable reconciliation in a divided nation.
We should recognize that Myanmar is now a different country. There is a different government, and it is one that we can work with. Our approach must be different, too.
Though the priority of Obama's trip is to attend the regional summit, other pressing issues of bilateral ties between the United States and Myanmar are expected to be discussed.
President Obama is about to go to Myanmar for the second time in two years - #BIGDEAL alert! - but, after a recent visit to Myanmar's brand spanking new capital, Nay Pyi Taw, I was wondering: Will anyone actually be there to greet him when he gets there?
It is all too easy for businesspeople and politicians from western economies to criticize developing countries for taking measures to protect domestic economic interests, but critics in glass houses should not throw stones. Most western nations, including the two great bastions of free trade, the U.S. and U.K., adopted extremely protectionist policies during earlier stages of development.
As President Obama returns to Myanmar, questions are being asked about what change his new approach has actually delivered for ordinary people.
When it comes to the way that the ethnic Burman majority treats the 135 different ethnic minorities that make up roughly 40 percent of Myanmar's population, "backsliding" is not the right word -- because that would presume that progress has been made in the first place.
In addition to saying the forbidden word, President Obama should address the root causes of the crisis by urging the Burmese government to reform its outdated laws that base citizenship on ethnic identity.
The question is whether President Obama can advance his foreign policy aims -- expanding trade, increasing military cooperation, keeping China at bay -- and honor the rest of that 2009 inaugural address?
Htun Htun Wynn and Tin Win Maw both grew up in Myanmar's timber industry, and when they got married they decided to start the Green Hill Valley Elephant Sanctuary for several of the elephants.
Chris Lewa, the director of The Arakan Project, a research and advocacy group that monitors Rakhine State, told IRIN the number of Rohingyas that have fled western Myanmar since 2012 has now topped 100,000.
When President Obama and other world leaders arrive here in Burma, they need to press the government on a slew of human rights issues, ranging from constitutional issues to the Rohingya crisis. But they also need to raise the issue of human rights abuses in the context of Burma's armed conflicts.