In 1990, significant sanctions were put in place by the U.S. government against Myanmar, also called Burma, in response to the actions of Myanmar’s ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). For decades, the military dictatorship ruled Myanmar and committed acts considered sufficiently egregious to warrant the imposition of sanctions. Most sanctions put in place in 1990 were lifted in 2016 by Presidential Executive Order 13742, after Myanmar pursued democratic reforms including a new constitution and elections.

However, on the first of February 2021, a new military coup began. The Burmese military detained and charged democratically elected President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for various alleged illegal activities. After the interruptions to the election from the military, the citizens of Myanmar took to the streets in protest, to which the military responded with violence. As of April 13th, 2021 approximately 700 people have been killed in the country directly relating to the Burmese military actions.

On February 10th, 2021 U.S. President Joe Biden issued sanctions against the military regime in Myanmar once again in response to the unrest and the anti-democratic actions. President Biden stated that he will hold those involved in the coup accountable and will impose additional sanctions of the individuals of the Burmese military. Presidential Executive Order 14014 states that the U.S. will restrict all exports of goods to the Burmese government and military and will freeze all U.S. assistance but will maintain support that goes directly to the Burmese citizens. Executive Order 14014 also stated that the U.S. will impose export restrictions on all US goods unless a specific license or exception is granted. These licenses include official business of the U.S. Government, Activities of International Organizations, and Transactions to Support Non-Governmental Organizations.

Other countries are instituting similar sanctions as the world watches the struggle between the military and the pro-democracy protestors unfold in Myanmar.