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.
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