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Former staff member

Mark McDowell

Former Head of Programme, Myanmar

Mark McDowell is the former Head of International IDEA’s Myanmar Programme.

McDowell managed International IDEA’s programmes in Myanmar. These include the project Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy (STEP to Democracy), which provides technical assistance to Myanmar’s Union Election Commission, works with domestic and international civil society organizations to conduct voter and civic education, and advocates for entrenchment of democratic reforms. Another project, MyConstitution, works with government and civil society to develop greater domestic capacity on the issue of constitutional reform. Other activities allow the organization to work with the parliament on capacity building to support Myanmar’s democratic institutions.

Before joining International IDEA in October 2016, McDowell was Canada’s first resident Ambassador to Myanmar. McDowell established the Canadian Embassy there in 2013, and was responsible for rebuilding Canada’s political, economic, and development cooperation relationship with Myanmar.

Previously, he headed the Public Diplomacy section at Canada’s Embassy in Beijing (2010-2013), where he raised Canada’s profile in China through path-breaking use of social media. From 2003-2007, as head of Political Affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok, McDowell worked extensively on the issue of communal unrest in the deep south of the country, delivering programming on development, inter-communal dialogue, and security. From 1997-2001, McDowell was Deputy Director, then later Director of Political and Public Affairs at Canada’s Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan.

McDowell has a career-long interest in Aboriginal Affairs and, from 2001 to 2003, led a widening of Canada’s engagement on international Indigenous issues in 24 countries, as well as serving as Canadian delegate to the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.


"Public Diplomacy at the Crossroads:  Definitions and Challenges in an ‘Open Source’ Era”, Fletcher Forum Special Issue on Public Diplomacy,  2009

“Development and the Environment in ASEAN”, Pacific Affairs,  Fall 1989

“Energy Strategies and Environmental Constraints in China’s Modernization”, Chinese Geography and Environment , Fall 1990

Public diplomacy, e-government, democratic transitions, Indigenous affairs, environmental issues and environmental politics
MA in East Asia Studies and BA in History and Philosophy (University of Toronto); Master of Public Administration (Fulbright Fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School); Research Fellow (Harvard’s Ash Institute of Governance and Innovation)
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