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Laws, decrees, bills and regulations relating to land, property and planning (commentary)

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: Burma HLP Initiative
Date of publication: November 2009
Description/subject: "Since its establishment in 2006, Displacement Solutions has been active in exploring the housing, land and property rights situation in Burma. The Burma HLP Initiative aims to shed new light on the numerous HLP rights issues in Burma today by building capacity for enforcing these rights by citizens of the country. The Initiative works together with various groups within and outside Burma towards these ends. The Initiative explores key questions such as: * What are the characteristics and status of the legal regime in Burma as it relates to HLP rights issues? * How effective is the current legal regime in promoting human rights standards relevant to HLP rights? What are the key issues facing the HLP rights regime in Burma? * In what ways can the legal code more effectively address HLP rights in Burma, and how might it be reformed to avoid problems in the future transition process? This will draw on the many experiences of political transition since the end of the Cold War. * How can the capacity of the Burmese democratic opposition be enhanced to structurally address the HLP legal environment in Burma today? How can expert capacity be strengthened to better prepare the broader democratic opposition to address the HLP challenges that will arise during and after political transition?..." THIS LINK CONTAINS A HYPERLINKED SET OF BURMESE HLP-RELATED LAWS
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 20 October 2010


Title: HOUSING, LAND AND PROPERTY RIGHTS IN BURMA: THE CURRENT LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Date of publication: November 2009
Description/subject: A compilation of all of the existing housing, land and property laws in Burma, plus commentary... "The deplorable human rights record of Burma’s military junta has been a key focus of international attention for many years. The military has ruled the country for half a century, and has presided over a collapse of the economy and of social services. At the same time, successive military regimes have perpetuated an almost feudal governance system – where the population is seen as a resource at the disposal of the rulers – that is in many respects unchanged since pre-colonial times. A combination of deliberate abuse, a general climate of impunity, and out-dated and ineffective social policies all contribute to a fundamental absence of basic human rights in this country of 55 million people. To date, the bulk of attention has focused on important questions of political prisoners, denial of basic freedoms, forced labour, forced displacement, as well as the other abuses related to the army’s brutal counter-insurgency policies. However, there are additional types of rights abuses that are not as frequently mentioned, but that have a critical impact on the daily lives of millions of people across Burma. And it is these – housing, land and property (HLP) rights – that form the contents of this important new book. This volume contains all of the existing housing, land and property laws in Burma, and makes a vital contribution to understanding the impact that these legal structures have on communities across the country. Being able to view the HLP legal code in its entirety for the first time reveals more clearly than ever before that supporters of democratic and governance reform within Burma need to better understand – and place greater emphasis on – HLP issues than they have to date. Understanding how these issues are dealt with in both law and practice will enable more creative thinking about Burma’s HLP future, in order that the peoples of the country can most fully enjoy their legitimate housing, land and property rights."
Author/creator: Scott Leckie and Ezekiel Simperingham (eds)
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions & The HLP Institute
Format/size: pdf (3.42MB) - 1255 pages
Date of entry/update: 30 December 2009


Title: Displacement Solutions
Description/subject: NGO working on housing, land and property rights (HLP)
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 29 August 2009


Title: Results of a google search for agribusiness burma myanmar
Language: English
Source/publisher: Google
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 04 September 2013


Individual Documents

Title: The politics of the emerging agro-industrial complex in Asia’s ‘final frontier’ - The war on food sovereignty in Burma
Date of publication: 03 September 2013
Description/subject: "Burma's dramatic turn-around from 'axis of evil' to western darling in the past year has been imagined as Asia's 'final frontier' for global finance institutions, markets and capital. Burma's agrarian landscape is home to three-fourths of the country's total population which is now being constructed as a potential prime investment sink for domestic and international agribusiness. The Global North's development aid industry and IFIs operating in Burma has consequently repositioned itself to proactively shape a pro-business legal environment to decrease political and economic risks to enable global finance capital to more securely enter Burma's markets, especially in agribusiness. But global capitalisms are made in localized places - places that make and are made from embedded social relations. This paper uncovers how regional political histories that are defined by very particular racial and geographical undertones give shape to Burma's emerging agro-industrial complex. The country's still smoldering ethnic civil war and fragile untested liberal democracy is additionally being overlain with an emerging war on food sovereignty. A discursive and material struggle over land is taking shape to convert subsistence agricultural landscapes and localized food production into modern, mechanized industrial agro-food regimes. This second agrarian transformation is being fought over between a growing alliance among the western development aid and IFI industries, global finance capital, and a solidifying Burmese military-private capitalist class against smallholder farmers who work and live on the country's now most valuable asset - land. Grassroots resistances increasingly confront the elite capitalist class' attempts to corporatize food production through the state's rule of law and police force. Farmers, meanwhile, are actively developing their own shared vision of food sovereignty and pro-poor land reform that desires greater attention.... Food Sovereignty: a critical dialogue, 14 - 15 September, New Haven.
Author/creator: Kevin Woods
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute (TNI)
Format/size: pdf (593K)
Date of entry/update: 04 September 2013


Title: Bridging the HLP Gap - The Need to Effectively Address Housing, Land and Property Rights During Peace Negotiations and in the Context of Refugee/IDP Return
Date of publication: 02 June 2013
Description/subject: Bridging the HLP Gap - The Need to Effectively Address Housing, Land and Property Rights During Peace Negotiations and in the Context of Refugee/IDP Return: Preliminary Recommendations to the Government of Myanmar, Ethnic Actors and the International Community.....Executive Summary: "Of the many challenging issues that will require resolution within the peace processes currently underway between the government of Myanmar and various ethnic groups in the country, few will be as complex, sensitive and yet vital than the issues comprising housing, land and property (HLP) rights. Viewed in terms of the rights of the sizable internally displaced person (IDP) and refugee populations who will be affected by the eventual peace agreements, and within the broader political reform process, HLP rights will need to form a key part of all of the ongoing moves to secure a sustainable peace, and be a key ingredient within all activities dedicated to ending displacement in Myanmar today. The Government Myanmar (including the military) and its various ethnic negotiating partners – just as with all countries that have undergone deep political transition in recent decades, including those emerging from lengthy conflicts – need to fully appreciate and comprehend the nature and scale of the HLP issues that have emerged in past decades, how these have affected and continue to affect the rights and perspectives of justice of those concerned, and the measures that will be required to remedy HLP concerns in a fair and equitable manner that strengthens the foundations for permanent peace. Resolving forced displacement and the arbitrary acquisition and occupation of land, addressing the HLP and other human rights of returning refugees and IDPs in areas of return, ensuring livelihood and other economic opportunities and a range of other measures will be required if return is be sustainable and imbued with a sense of justice. There is an acute awareness among all of those involved in the ongoing peace processes of the centrality of HLP issues within the context of sustainable peace, however, all too little progress has thus far been made to address these issues in any detail, nor have practical plans commenced to resolve ongoing displacement of either refugees or IDPs. Indeed, the negotiating positions of both sides on key HLP issues differ sharply and will need to be bridged; many difficult decisions remain to be made..."
Author/creator: Scott Leckie
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions
Format/size: pdf (1.6MB)
Alternate URLs: http://displacementsolutions.org
http://displacementsolutions.org/landmark-report-launch-bridging-the-housing-land-and-property-gap-in-myanmar/
Date of entry/update: 17 June 2013


Title: Access Denied - Land Rights and Ethnic Conflict in Burma
Date of publication: May 2013
Description/subject: The reform process in Burma/Myanmar by the quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein has raised hopes that a long overdue solution can be found to more than 60 years of devastating civil war... Burma’s ethnic minority groups have long felt marginalized and discriminated against, resulting in a large number of ethnic armed opposition groups fighting the central government – dominated by the ethnic Burman majority – for ethnic rights and autonomy. The fighting has taken place mostly in Burma’s borderlands, where ethnic minorities are most concentrated. Burma is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse countries. Ethnic minorities make up an estimated 30-40 percent of the total population, and ethnic states occupy some 57 percent of the total land area and are home to poor and often persecuted ethnic minority groups. Most of the people living in these impoverished and war-torn areas are subsistence farmers practicing upland cultivation. Economic grievances have played a central part in fuelling the civil war. While the central government has been systematically exploiting the natural resources of these areas, the money earned has not been (re)invested to benefit the local population... Conclusions and Recommendations: The new land and investment laws benefit large corporate investors and not small- holder farmers, especially in ethnic minority regions, and do not take into account land rights of ethnic communities. The new ceasefires have further facilitated land grabbing in conflict-affected areas where large development projects in resource-rich ethnic regions have already taken place. Many ethnic organisations oppose large-scale economic projects in their territories until inclusive political agreements are reached. Others reject these projects outright. Recognition of existing customary and communal tenure systems in land, water, fisheries and forests is crucial to eradicate poverty and build real peace in ethnic areas; to ensure sustainable livelihoods for marginalized ethnic communities affected by decades of war; and to facilitate the voluntary return of IDPs and refugees. Land grabbing and unsustainable business practices must halt, and decisions on the allocation, use and management of natural resources and regional development must have the participation and consent of local communities. Local communities must be protected by the government against land grabbing. The new land and investment laws should be amended and serve the needs and rights of smallholder farmers, especially in ethnic regions.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Transnational Institute (TNI), Burma Centre Netherlands
Format/size: pdf (161K-OBL version; 3.22MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.tni.org/sites/www.tni.org/files/download/accesdenied-briefing11.pdf
Date of entry/update: 14 May 2013


Title: Land grabbing as big business in Myanmar
Date of publication: 08 March 2013
Description/subject: "Inadequate land laws have opened rural Myanmar to rampant land grabbing by unscrupulous, well-connected businessmen who anticipate a boom in agricultural and property investment. If unchecked, the gathering trend has the potential to undermine the country's broad reform process and impede long-term economic progress. Under the former military regime, land grabbing became a common and largely uncontested practice. Government bodies, particularly military units, were able to seize large tracts of farmland, usually without compensation. While some of the land Land grabbing as big business in Myanmar By Brian McCartan Inadequate land laws have opened rural Myanmar to rampant land grabbing by unscrupulous, well-connected businessmen who anticipate a boom in agricultural and property investment. If unchecked, the gathering trend has the potential to undermine the country's broad reform process and impede long-term economic progress. Under the former military regime, land grabbing became a common and largely uncontested practice. Government bodies, particularly military units, were able to seize large tracts of farmland, usually without compensation. While some of the land was used for the expansion of military bases, new government offices or infrastructure projects, much of it was used either by military units for their own commercial purposes or sold to private companies. The threat of military force meant there was little grass roots opposition to these land seizures and few avenues to secure adequate compensation. That's changed under the new democratic order as local communities band together to fight back against seizure of their lands. Many of the current land disputes date to the period before the 2010 general elections that ushered in President Thein Sein's reformist quasi-civilian government...Two new land laws passed on March 30, 2012 - the Farmland Law and the Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land Management Law - were intended to clarify ownership under the constitution and provide protections to land owners. While the laws guaranteed more individual ownership rights, to date big businesses have profited most from the legislation. The new laws created a dysfunctional and opaque system of land registration and administration that reinforced a top-down decision-making process without local participation. The absence of adequate legal and judicial recourse for the protection of land rights has further exacerbated the situation. Rather than deter land rights violations, the laws have effectively facilitated more land grabbing and manipulation of the system..."
Author/creator: Brian McCartan
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Asia Times Online"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 June 2013


Title: Business and Human Rights in Burma (Myanmar) - Testimony of Marco Simons
Date of publication: 28 February 2013
Description/subject: Testimony of Marco Simons to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission: "This submission describes the emerging landscape as U.S. businesses reengage in Burma and identifies specific human rights concerns associated with current and prospective corporate activities in Burma (Myanmar). A number of companies, including General Electric, have already invested in Burma, and U.S. oil supermajors are considering participation in upcoming auctions for oil blocks. Increased foreign investment has already been linked to large-scale displacement of local communities and loss of traditional livelihoods in Burma. The legal framework for land rights is inadequate to protect the fundamental human rights of those whose homes and fields stand in the way of economic development; indeed, it facilitates arbitrary and inadequately compensated alienation of land. Moreover, violence and gross human rights abuses continue to occur in association with natural resource development projects, as at the Letpadaung Copper Mine at Monywa, and in Shan State along the Shwe Gas Pipeline corridor. Having decided that public disclosure, rather than regulation, is a more appropriate tool to address the human rights and environmental concerns associated with Western investment in Burma, the U.S. Government has proposed Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma that are expected to take effect prior to April 2013. While they may assist government and civil society to monitor the human rights implications of the relaxation of U.S. sanctions on Burma, these Reporting Requirements have a number of troubling weaknesses that may allow serious human rights risks to avoid detection. Moreover, while the U.S. is now allowing the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to extend loans to Burma, such projects are already being met with complaints over lack of transparency and consultation..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
Format/size: pdf (4,7MB)
Date of entry/update: 17 July 2013


Title: Legal Review of Recently Enacted Farmland Law and Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law - Improving the Legal & Policy Frameworks Relating to Land Management in Myanmar
Date of publication: November 2012
Description/subject: "The Farmland Law and the VFV Law were approved by Parliament on March 30th, 2012. There have been a few improvements compared to previous laws such as recognition of non-rotational taungya as a legitimate land-use and recognition that farmers are using VFV lands without formal recognition by the Government. However overall the Laws lack clarity and provide weak protection of the rights of smallholder farmers in upland areas and do not explicitly state the equal rights of women to register and inherit land or be granted land-use rights for VFV land. The Laws remain designed primarily to foster promotion of large-scale agricultural investment and fail to provide adequate safeguards for the majority of farmers who are smallholders. In particular tenure security for farmland remains weak due to the Government retaining power to rescind farm land use rights leaving smallholders vulnerable to dispossession of their land-use rights. In addition there remains some unnecessary de-facto government control over the crop choices of farmers. In particular it is recommended that recognition of land-use rights under customary law and the creation of mechanisms for communal registration of land-use rights, be included in the Farmland and VFV Laws. There needs to be a comprehensive process of re-classifying land in the country to reflect land-use changes resulting from conversion of forests and VFV land into agricultural land, loss of agricultural land due to development projects, urban expansion and population growth. This will serve to reduce land conflict in the countryside and provide genuine tenure security for smallholders. Furthermore the specific and independent rights of women must be explicitly stated in the Laws. Added to this the fundamental principle of free, prior and informed consent should be enshrined, especially in regard to removal of land-use rights in the national interest. It is also necessary that the Government works in partnership with civil society and farmers associations to revise the Farmland and VFV Laws..."
Author/creator: Robert B. Oberndorf, J. D.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Forest Trends, Food Security Working Group’s Land Core Group
Format/size: pdf (236K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs15/Legal_Review_of_Farmland_Law&VFV_Land_Law.pdf
Date of entry/update: 01 July 2013


Title: Myanmar at the HLP Crossroads (final version)
Date of publication: 25 October 2012
Description/subject: Executive Summary: "Few issues are as frequently discussed and politically charged in transitional Myanmar as the state of housing, land and property (HLP) rights. The effectiveness of the laws and policies that address the fundamental and universal human need for a place to live, to raise a family, and to earn a living, is one of the primary criterion by which most people determine the quality of their lives and judge the effectiveness and legitimacy of their Governments. Housing, land and property issues undergird economic relations, and have critical implications for the ability to vote and otherwise exercise political power, for food security and for the ability to access education and health care. As the nation struggles to build greater democracy and seeks growing engagement with the outside world, Myanmar finds itself at an extraordinary juncture; in fact, it finds itself at the HLP Crossroads. The decisions the Government makes about HLP matters during the remainder of 2012 and beyond, in particular the highly controversial issue of potentially transforming State land into privately held assets, will set in place a policy direction that will have a marked impact on the future development of the country and the day-to-day circumstances in which people live. Getting it right will fundamentally and positively transform the nation from the bottom-up and help to create a nation that consciously protects the rights of all and shows the true potential of what was until very recently one of the world's most isolated nations. Getting it wrong, conversely, will delay progress, and more likely than not drag the nation's economy and levels of human rights protections downwards for decades to come. Myanmar faces an unprecedented scale of structural landlessness in rural areas, increasing displacement threats to farmers as a result of growing investment interest by both national and international firms, expanding speculation in land and real estate, and grossly inadequate housing conditions facing significant sections of both the urban and rural population. Legal and other protections afforded by the current legal framework, the new Farmland Law and other newly enacted legislation are wholly inadequate. These conditions are further compounded by a range of additional HLP challenges linked both to the various peace negotiations and armed insurgencies in the east of the country, in particular Kachin State, and the unrest in Rakhine State in the western region. The Government and people of Myanmar are thus struggling with a series of HLP challenges that require immediate, high-level and creative attention in a rights-based and consistent manner. As the country begins what will be a long and arduous journey toward democratization, the rule of law and stable new institutions, laws and procedures, the time is ripe for the Government to work together with all stakeholders active within the HLP sector to develop a unique Myanmar- centric approach to addressing HLP challenges that shows the country's true potential. And it is also time for the Government to begin to take comprehensive measures - some quick and short-term, others more gradual and long-term - to equitably and intelligently address the considerable HLP challenges the country faces, and grounding these firmly within the reform process.Having thoroughly examined the de facto and de jure HLP situation in the country based on numerous interviews, reports and visits, combined with an exhaustive review of the entire HLP legislative framework in place in the country, this report recommends that the following four general measures be commenced by the Government of Myanmar before the end of 2012 to improve the HLP prospects of Myanmar:..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions
Format/size: pdf (1.4MB-OBL version; 2.55MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://displacementsolutions.org/files/documents/MyanmarReport.pdf
Date of entry/update: 26 October 2012


Title: GUIDANCE NOTE ON DEVELOPING POLICY OPTIONS FOR ADDRESSING LAND GRABBING AND SPECULATION IN MYANMAR JULY 2012
Date of publication: July 2012
Description/subject: "Land grabbing and speculation, which can both manifest in a multitude of forms, are unfortunate, often-inter-twined, yet common practices in countries undergoing structural political transition. If unchecked, unregulated, or unintentionally encouraged by the very governments that replace formerly authoritarian regimes, these two land realities can serve to undermine democratic reforms, entrench economic and political privilege and seriously harm the human rights prospects of those affected, in particular internationally recognised housing, land and property (HLP) rights. Land grabbing and speculation can increase inequality, harm economic prospects and create conditions where social tensions and even violence may become inevitable. Unless law and policy explicitly address the negative consequences of these practices, land grabbing and speculation can erode citizen confidence in government, reduce incomes and livelihoods and increase poverty and broad declines in a range of vital social indicators. And yet, there is nothing inevitable or inherent about the inequitable acquisition and control of ever-larger quantities of land in fewer and fewer hands. Indeed, governments wishing to protect the HLP rights of rural and urban dwellers and properly regulate the land acquisition and transfer process can succeed in reducing the prevalence of both land grabbing and speculation, improve the human rights prospects of current landholders and ultimately strengthen both democratic processes and macro-economic perspectives. It is clear that these issues are affecting Myanmar at the moment, and that it is up to the Government to take steps to address these problems in a fair, effective and equitable manner Twelve possible steps that the Government may wish to consider, include:..."
Author/creator: Displacement Solutions
Source/publisher: Scott Leckie
Format/size: pdf (270K)
Date of entry/update: 14 October 2012


Title: Land to the Tillers of Myanmar
Date of publication: 13 June 2012
Description/subject: "...with increasing frequency, land is taken from farmers, often with little or no compensation. Large swathes of farmland have already been made available to foreign-based companies in a process that appears to be accelerating. Government data show that the amount of land transferred to private companies increased by as much as 900 percent from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s and now totals roughly 5 percent of Myanmar’s agricultural land... Myanmar law requires farmers to grow what the government or the local military commander wants them to grow, and subjects farmers to production quotas. Policies like these also displace farmers and lead to food insecurity, as farm productivity suffers. This can push farmers into debt by forcing them to take out loans from money lenders or sell their land in an effort to meet an unrealistic planting directive. And now two new land laws — the Farmland Bill and the Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land Management Bill, recently passed by the legislature and awaiting action by President Thein Sein — are poised to give the government even more power to seize land without consultation or compensation..."
Author/creator: Roy Prosterman and Darryl Vhugen
Source/publisher: "New York Times"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 14 June 2012


Title: MYANMAR AT THE H.L.P. CROSSROADS (initial version)
Date of publication: 12 June 2012
Description/subject: "The HLP [Housing, Land and Property]choices the nation makes in the coming months will largely determine whether this unbelievably beautiful land, and its proud and wonderful people, will face the tumult, inequities and tragic HLP outcomes of so many other nations of transition; or whether Myanmar can chart an entirely new HLP path, which ushers in a truly new HLP dawn, whereby every one of the country’s 55 million citizens can – as rapidly as possible – enjoy growing security of tenure, improving housing and living conditions, ever greater access to clean water and regular supplies of electricity, and ultimately all of the HLP rights promised to citizens everywhere under human rights law and international best practice. Indeed, we need to dream of an HLP future that unfolds into sustainable cities and towns, where historical neighbourhoods are preserved, where HLP policy begins from a pro-poor perspective where justice follows and where the nations farmer’s experience ever growing levels of HLP rights protections enabling them to restore this land’s position as the world’s rice bowl. Securing HLP rights for all and not just the few is the way to build a strong economy, a stable society and a prosperous future. There is still every chance for the people of Myanmar to get it right and pursue a wholly original, forward-looking approach to these issues. But time is passing quickly and space for re-positioning legislative and policy initiatives on HLP issues is becoming ever smaller. And the HLP challenges facing Myanmar are nothing short of immense..."
Author/creator: Scott Leckie
Language: English
Source/publisher: Displacement Solutions
Format/size: pdf (132K)
Date of entry/update: 14 October 2012


Title: Examination and Critique of the 2012 Farmland Law
Date of publication: May 2012
Description/subject: N. B. The title of this article, published in the April-May issue of "The Mon Forum", uses the term "Bill" which implies that the law has not been adopted. Elsewhere in the article, however, it is clear that the analysis is of the adopted Law... "The Farmland Law was enacted and approved by Burma Pyi Daung Su Hluttaw (Burma Union Parliament) on March 30th, 2012. According to the Farmland Law section 3 (a), “farmland means paddy land, ya land, kiang land, shifting-cultivated land (taung ya), perennial plant land, dhani (coastal) land, orchards, and alluvial land.” Under section 3 (b), “farmland means the land which is mainly for boosting agricultural production, and producing naturally growing or man-made products that can be cultivated with an irrigation system.” Analysis: Because farmland is defined as land primarily for the growth of agricultural production, it is an obstacle for the farmers to cultivate their land freely. It gives the right to cultivate agricultural crops solely for the purpose of agricultural production. [Download PDF Version of Farmland Bill in Burmese]..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)
Format/size: pdf (146K)
Date of entry/update: 12 June 2012


Title: More warnings over land bills
Date of publication: 26 February 2012
Description/subject: Experts say two pieces of draft legislation have 'major gaps' that could be exploited for land grab..."Harvard academics, farmers, activists, politicians, United Nations agencies and a Nobel Prize-winning economist have joined the debate on land rights reform, warning that two proposed land laws could lead to increased poverty and inequality if approved in their current form. The Farmland Bill and Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Bill were submitted to parliament during the second session but had not been passed when the session ended in late November. Activists and land rights experts say the bills are inadequate and require further consultation, and in late 2011 quietly began campaigning to have both of the draft laws amended. With as much as two-thirds of the population relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, the issue is considered critical to efforts to alleviate poverty and promote inclusive and sustainable development..."
Author/creator: Thomas Kean
Language: English
Source/publisher: "Myanmar Times" Volume 31, No. 615
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 22 June 2012


Title: BURMA: Draft land law denies basic rights to farmers
Date of publication: 01 November 2011
Description/subject: A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission... During the second sitting of the new semi-elected parliament in Burma this year, the government submitted a draft land law. The government gazette published the draft on September 16, and it is currently still before the parliament. Burma needs a new land law. The current legislation on land, either for reasons of content or because of institutional factors, lacks coherence. It is ineffectual in protecting the rights of cultivators. With the rise and rise of private businesses linked to serving and former army officers and bureaucrats, the incidence of land grabbing also is fast increasing, and is bound to increase even more dramatically in the next few years. Although a new law would not stop or perhaps even slow land grabbing of its own accord, one protecting cultivators' rights and situating powers of review over land regulations and cases in the hands of the judiciary and independent agencies could at least set some clear benchmarks against which to measure actual practices, and establish some groundwork for minimum institutional protections. Unfortunately, the draft bill before parliament is not the law that Burma needs. In fact, it is precisely the opposite of what the country needs. Rather than protecting cultivators' rights, it undercuts them at practically every point, through a variety of provisions aimed at enabling rather than inhibiting land grabbing. It invites takeover of land with government authorization for the purpose of practically any activity, not merely for other forms of cultivation. Under the draft, farmers could be evicted to make way for the construction of polluting factories, power lines, roads and railways, pipelines, fun parks, condominiums and whatever else government officials claim to be in "the national interest"..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asian Human Rights Commission
Format/size: pdf (105K)
Date of entry/update: 08 November 2011


Title: Burmese government land grab: Farmers without rights
Date of publication: 23 May 2011
Description/subject: "...Life for farmers and workers in Burma is growing increasingly more difficult. The minimum wage fails to provide the ‘just and favourable remuneration’ that ensures ‘an existence worthy of human dignity’ that is guaranteed by Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a result, many Burmese citizens are forced to leave their families and communities to work as migrant labourers in neighbouring countries. Further, the government’s efforts to confiscate the land of small farmers in order to profit from foreign investors has increased the vulnerability of many Burmese citizens. These actions have been taken in sharp contrast to both Burmese domestic and international laws. The government has provided no reasonable justification for their actions and, therefore, the government is acting in an illegal manner inconsistent with their responsibilities to the Burmese population."
Author/creator: U Myo and Lane Weir
Language: English
Source/publisher: Mizzima.com
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 23 May 2011


Title: Upland Land Tenure Security in Myanmar - an Overview (Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ )
Date of publication: February 2011
Description/subject: "This report provides an overview of issues related to upland smallholder land tenure. The immediate objective of the report is to promote a shared understanding of land tenure issues by national-level stakeholders, with a longer term objective of improving the land tenure, livelihood and food security of upland farm families. The report is intended for government and non-government agencies, policy makers and those impacted by policy. The report covers four main areas: status of and trends in upland tenure security; institutions that regulate upland tenure security; mechanisms available to ensure access to land; and points for further consideration which could lead to increased effectiveness and equity. Trends in the uplands include increased population growth, resettlement and concentration of populations, fragmentation and degradation of agricultural lands, and increased loss of land to smallholder farmers or landlessness. Declining access to land for smallholder farmers results in the depletion of common forest resources, increased unemployment, outmigration for labor, and ultimately food insecurity for the people who live in these areas..."
Language: Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ
Source/publisher: Food Security Working Group
Format/size: pdf (4.3MB; 11MB)
Date of entry/update: 25 October 2013


Title: Upland Land Tenure Security in Myanmar, an Overview (English)
Date of publication: February 2011
Description/subject: "This report provides an overview of issues related to upland smallholder land tenure. The immediate objective of the report is to promote a shared understanding of land tenure issues by national-level stakeholders, with a longer term objective of improving the land tenure, livelihood and food security of upland farm families. The report is intended for government and non-government agencies, policy makers and those impacted by policy. The report covers four main areas: status of and trends in upland tenure security; institutions that regulate upland tenure security; mechanisms available to ensure access to land; and points for further consideration which could lead to increased effectiveness and equity. Trends in the uplands include increased population growth, resettlement and concentration of populations, fragmentation and degradation of agricultural lands, and increased loss of land to smallholder farmers or landlessness. Declining access to land for smallholder farmers results in the depletion of common forest resources, increased unemployment, outmigration for labor, and ultimately food insecurity for the people who live in these areas..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Food Security Working Group
Format/size: pdf (2.6MB)
Date of entry/update: 25 October 2013


Title: Land Tenure: A foundation for food security in Myanmar’s uplands (Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ )
Date of publication: December 2010
Description/subject: "Access to land for smallholder farmers is a critical foundation for food security in Myanmar's uplands. Land tenure guarantees seem to be eroding and access to land becoming more difficult in some upland areas. If this trend continues it may have negative impacts for food security and undermine environmental and economic sustainability. This briefing paper explores the relationship between land tenure and food security, as well as key institutional and other factors that influence land access and tenure for smallholder farmers in the uplands today..."
Language: Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ
Source/publisher: Food Security Working Group
Format/size: pdf (489K)
Date of entry/update: 25 October 2013


Title: Land Tenure: A foundation for food security in Myanmar’s uplands (English)
Date of publication: December 2010
Description/subject: "Access to land for smallholder farmers is a critical foundation for food security in Myanmar's uplands. Land tenure guarantees seem to be eroding and access to land becoming more difficult in some upland areas. If this trend continues it may have negative impacts for food security and undermine environmental and economic sustainability. This briefing paper explores the relationship between land tenure and food security, as well as key institutional and other factors that influence land access and tenure for smallholder farmers in the uplands today."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Food Security Working Group
Format/size: pdf (458K)
Date of entry/update: 25 October 2013


Title: Status of Customary Land Rights in Burma (Myanmar)
Date of publication: 10 July 2010
Language: English
Source/publisher: World Concern, Myanmar
Format/size: pdf
Alternate URLs: http://www.angoc.org (Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development)
Date of entry/update: 04 September 2013


Title: Status of Customary Land Rights in Burma (Myanmar)
Date of publication: July 2010
Description/subject: 30 pages for projection
Language: English
Source/publisher: World Concern
Format/size: pdf (651K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.angoc.org/portal/publications/CLR/A.%20Burma%20Customary%20Land-Rights.pdf
Date of entry/update: 25 October 2013


Title: Guidance Note on Land Issues (Myanmar)
Date of publication: June 2010
Description/subject: "This note is meant to serve as a quick reference for local authorities and NGOs to acquire an understanding of relevant land laws and the context of land-use in Myanmar. All land and all natural resources in Myanmar, above and below the ground, above and beneath the water, and in the atmosphere is ultimately owned by the Union of Myanmar. Although the socialist economic system was abolished in 1988, the existing Land Law and Directions were not changed in parallel, and thus these are still in use today in accordance with the ‘Adaptation of Expression of Law’ of the State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No 8/88..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: UN Habitat, UNHCR
Format/size: pdf (1.7MB)
Date of entry/update: 12 November 2011


Title: Confronting the absence of law
Date of publication: 28 December 2009
Description/subject: Dec 28, 2009 (DVB)–Few countries’ legal systems are as corrupt and opaque as Burma’s. We spoke to Scott Leckie, director of Displacement Solutions, about their new book on housing, land and property rights (HLP) in Burma.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Democratic Voice of Burma
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 04 January 2010


Title: A State-run "Market Economy"
Date of publication: November 2009
Description/subject: Without the rule of law, there are no guarantees the economy will be free of state interference under the 2008 Constitution... "The economic aspects of Burma’s 2008 Constitution have been notably absent from the recent written analysis of its implications for Burmese society. Though constitutions are not primarily economic documents, Burma’s latest Constitution does contain clauses that have economic import, and it is worth looking at them carefully. There is an important caveat, however, and this is that a regime that consistently honors the rule of law only in the breach and has many incentives (financial and otherwise) for maintaining the status quo is unlikely to change its behavior anytime soon; therefore, the Constitution may amount to little. Regardless of whether the military abides by its Constitution, however, the document can provide insight into the thinking of its drafters..."
Author/creator: Sean Turnell
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 17, No. 8
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: http://www2.irrawaddy.org/print_article.php?art_id=17134
Date of entry/update: 28 February 2010


Title: Housing, Land and Property Rights in Burma: Towards New Strategies
Date of publication: April 2009
Description/subject: "...Burma's citizens and their international friends need to move beyond the advocacy efforts relied upon during the past decades and identify new and refreshing ways of promoting positive change that starts with the people in Burma. An increasing reliance on HLP rights as a foundation for change, grounded deeply in the daily experience of their denial by the vast majority of those living in the country, and the clear range of concrete actions that can be carried out beginning today to improve the HLP situation in the country, could provide a whole new way of transforming the landscape of the country. A novel vision of Burma is required; a vision where all are adequately housed, where all have secure tenure to their land, where displacement as a policy tool is relegated to history, where basic services are enjoyed by all and where Burma's towns and cities become the bustling, modern, vibrant pride and joy of all the peoples within Burma as they go about living lives of dignity, prosperity, equality and security. HLP strategies could provide the basis for transforming this vision into reality, and the time to commence this work is now"
Author/creator: Scott Leckie
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Lawyers' Council, ("Lawkapala" No. 32) via Displacement Solutions
Format/size: pdf (449K)
Date of entry/update: 29 August 2009


Title: A Guide to Housing, Land and Property Rights in Burma
Date of publication: 2009
Description/subject: Table of Contents:- Introduction: I. International Human Rights Law 1. What are human rights? 2. Where do human rights come from? 3. Human rights and government duties... II. The Right to Adequate Housing 1. Housing is a Human Right 2. What is the Right to Adequate Housing? 3. The Right to Adequate Housing and the Duties of Government... III.Forced Evictions 1. Evictions and Human Rights 2. Is an eviction a violation of human rights? 3. Is the eviction absolutely necessary? 4. The Government’s Duties before, during and after eviction 5. Government duties BEFORE an eviction 6. The government’s duties DURING an eviction 7. The government’s duties AFTER an eviction... IV. Housing, Land and Property Restitution Rights 1. What is Housing, Land and Property restitution? 2. International Human Rights standards on HLP Restitution: the “Pinheiro Principles”. 3. Who does the principle of HLP Restitution apply to? 4. The right to return 5. What is the right to restitution? 6. What about people who are occupying land of displaced persons? 7. What should be done to promote the right to return and restitution?
Language: English
Source/publisher: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
Format/size: pdf (712K)
Date of entry/update: 20 October 2010


Title: EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO RETURN HOME (English, Karen, Burmese)
Date of publication: 2008
Description/subject: Housing rights in Burma after the cyclone... Explaining the right to return and the right to housing, land and property restitution in Burma
Language: English, Karen, Burmese
Source/publisher: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
Format/size: pdf (English - 56K; Karen - 126K; Burmese - 116K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.cohre.org/sites/default/files/burma_-_factsheet_-_everyone_has_the_right_to_return_home_...
http://www.cohre.org/sites/default/files/burma_-_factsheet_-_everyone_has_the_right_to_return_home_...
Date of entry/update: 20 October 2010


Title: Displacement and Dispossession: Forced Migration and Land Rights in Burma
Date of publication: 05 December 2007
Description/subject: "According to COHRE's new report, 'Displacement and Dispossession: Forced Migration and Land Rights in Burma', land confiscation by Government forces is responsible for many serious housing, land and property (HLP) rights violations in Burma. These abuses occur during military counter-insurgency operations; to clear land for the construction of new army bases; to make way for infrastructure development projects; to facilitate natural resource extraction; and to cater for the vested interests of business. 'Displacement and Dispossession: Forced Migration and Land Rights in Burma' also reveals that control of land is a key strategy for the military regime, and a means of promoting the on-going expansion of the Burmese Army (Tatmadaw). In 1998, the SPDC issued a directive instructing Tatmadaw battalions to become self-sufficient in rice and other basic provisions. This prompted the Tatmadaw to 'live off the land' by appropriating resources (food, cash, labour, land) from the civilian population. This policy has exacerbated conflict and displacement across much of rural Burma. The Thai Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) and its partners estimate that during 2007, approximately 76,000 people have been newly displaced by armed conflict and associated human rights abuses. The majority of new incidents of forced migration and village destruction were concentrated in northeast Karen State and adjacent areas of Pegu Division. The total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Eastern Burma in October 2007 was 503,000. These included 295,000 people in ceasefire zones, 99,000 IDPs 'in hiding' in the jungle and 109,000 in relocation sites. The estimates exclude hundreds of thousands of IDPs in other parts of Burma (especially Kachin and Shan States, and the west of the country, as well as in some parts of Karen State). Including these figures would bring the total to over a million internally displaced people. COHRE's Du Plessis said, "More than one million people have been dispossessed and are internally displaced in Burma -- not because of a natural disaster, but due to their own government's calculated and brutal actions. We have here a state monopoly which forcibly transfers property, income and assets, from rural, non-Burman ethnic nationalities to an elite, military Government. The HLP violations found in Burma today are the result of short-sighted and predatory policies that date back to the early years of Independence, and to the period of colonial rule. These problems can only be resolved through substantial and sustained change in Burma. Political transition should include improved access to a range of fundamental rights, as enshrined in international law and conventions -- including respect for HLP rights."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Coalition on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
Format/size: pdf (3.21MB)
Alternate URLs: http://www.cohre.org/news/documents/burma-displacement-and-dispossession-forced-migration-and-land-...
Date of entry/update: 01 December 2010


Title: Housing, Land, and Property Rights in Burma
Date of publication: October 2004
Description/subject: "...The main objective of this research is to examine housing, land, and property rights in the context of Burma’s societal transition towards a democratic polity and economy. Much has been written and discussed about property rights in their various manifestations, private, public, collective, and common in terms of “rights”. When property rights are widely and fairly distributed, they are inseparable from the rights of people to a means of living. Yet in the contemporary world, millions of people are denied access to the land, markets, technology, money and jobs essential to creation of livelihoods (Korten, 1998). The most significant worldwide problems of unjust property rights remain those associated with landlessness, rural poverty, and inequality (Hudson-Rodd & Nyunt, 2000)..."
Author/creator: Nancy Hudson-Rodd
Language: English
Source/publisher: Edith Cowan University, Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
Format/size: pdf (741K)
Date of entry/update: 26 February 2007


Title: State-induced violence and poverty in Burma
Date of publication: April 2004
Description/subject: "...The objective of this research paper is to describe specific ways in which the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) deprives the people of Burma of their land and livelihood. Confiscation of land, labour, crops and capital; destruction of person and property; forced labour; looting and expropriation of food and possessions; forced sale of crops to the military; extortion of money through official and unofficial taxes and levies; forced relocation and other abuses by the State..."
Author/creator: Dr Nancy Hudson-Rodd, Dr Myo Nyunt, Saw Thamain Tun, Sein Htay
Language: English
Source/publisher: Edith Cowan University, National Council of Union of Burma (NCUB), Federation of Trade Unions-Burma (FTUB)
Format/size: pdf (448K)
Date of entry/update: 26 February 2007


Title: The Impact of the confiscation of Land, Labor, Capital Assets and forced relocation in Burma by the military regime
Date of publication: May 2003
Description/subject: 1. Introduction 1; 2. Historical Context and Current Implications of the State Taking Control of People, Land and Livelihood 2; 2.1. Under the Democratically Elected Government 2; 2.1.1. The Land Nationalization Act 1953 2; 2.1.2. The Agricultural Lands Act 1953 2; 3. Under the Revolutionary Council (1962-1974) 2; 3.1. The Tenancy Act 1963 3; 3.2. The Protection of the Right of Cultivation Act, 1963 3; 4. The State Gains Further Control over the Livelihoods of Households 3; 4.1. Under the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) Rule (1974 - 1988) 3; 4.1.1 Land Policy and Institutional Reforms 3; 4.2 Under the Military Rule II - SLORC/SPDC (1988 - present) 4; 4.2.1. Keeping it Together: Agriculture, Economy, and Rural Livelihood 5; 5. Militarization of Rural Economy 8; 5.1. Land confiscation 8; 5. 2. Land reclamation 11; 5.3. Military Agricultural Projects 13; 5.4. The Fleecing of Burmese Farmers 15; 5.5. Procurement 17; 5.5.1. Other crops 20; 5.5.2. Farmers tortured in Mon State 23; 6. Forced Relocation and Disparity of Income and wealth 25; 7. Conclusion 29... APPENDICES NOT YET ACQUIRED Appendix 1. Summary Report on Human Rights Violations by SPDC and DKBA Troops in 7 Districts of KNU ( 2000 to 2002) 31; Appendix 2. Forced labor by SPDC troops on road construction from Pa-pun to Kamamaung in 2003 38; Appendix 3. Survey Questionnaires (Ward/village and Household - in Burmese) 45.
Author/creator: Dr Nancy Hudson-Rodd, Dr Myo Nyunt, Saw Thamain Tun, Sein Htay
Language: English
Source/publisher: NCUB, FTUB
Format/size: html (19K) pdf (649K, 812K, 413K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs17/land_confiscation-NHR+al-en-red.pdf
Date of entry/update: 12 August 2003


Title: An Overview of the recognition of Native Title in the Commonwealth of Australia
Date of publication: April 2000
Description/subject: "..Rights to land in Burma are bound up with issues of ethnic conflict, militarisation and lack of democratic institutions. A future democratic Burma will need to seek ways to resolve competing claims to land, taking into account such issues as traditional ownership by particular ethnic nationalities, return of displaced persons, varying religious ties to land, development imperatives and agricultural demands. The chosen method of resolution will need to address, as much as possible, the needs for certainty, efficiency and a fair hearing for those concerned. The democratic opposition and its international supporters are seeking to explore and collect ideas for the construction of effective and fair ways of dealing with the many complex legal and social issues in Burma. As part of this exploration of ideas for the future, Burma Lawyers' Council encourages articles explaining relevant issues in other countries. The following article is kindly provided by the principle legal officer of an indigenous land council in Australia. The Australian experience offers an interesting perspective on possible judicial, legislative and administrative responses to the issue of indigenous ownership of land..."
Author/creator: D L Ritter
Language: English
Source/publisher: Legal Issues on Burma Journal No. 5 (Burma Lawyers' Council)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Land as a Free Gift of Nature
Date of publication: 1920
Description/subject: Use Google Chrome to read online - otherwise download and read offline
Author/creator: J. S. Furnivall
Language: English
Source/publisher: Cambridge University Press
Format/size: pdf (193K)
Date of entry/update: 17 February 2014