Myanmar

Exploring Solutions to land governance in the peace process

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Land management issues including land ownership, land rights, access to land, and traditional land tenure are some of the most complex issues related to Myanmar’s peace process and peace dialogues. To help promote better understanding of the relationship between land governance and peacebuilding in the country, the Ethnic Nationalities Affairs Center (ENAC) is carrying out advocacy and research on land governance policy in Myanmar.

With the support of the Joint Peace Fund, ENAC produced and recently launched their research paper on ‘Land Governance - Implications for Future Federal Union of Myanmar' in the last week of January at Green Hill Hotel, Yangon.

Sai Nyunt Lwin, of the Board of Directors at ENAC said the aim of this research was to create debate around this important issue: “We are sharing our concerns and recommendations around land issues in advance of the country moving towards a federal model, since land management issues are one of the most complex topics in this country. Therefore, ENAC is trying to support further discussion of land governance in Myanmar by launching this research policy paper,” he said.

At the event, ENAC representatives said the paper offered solutions to resolve Myanmar’s problems with land management systems; provided potential land governance solutions that can be applied to the basic federal principles for building a future federal Myanmar; and could help support the ongoing peace dialogue by providing basic land principles, particularly for the Land and the Environment Sector which is currently being negotiated by the stakeholders as part of the peace process.

ENAC’s research examined different land governance policies from the Myanmar government and three ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), including the Karen National Union, Karenni National Progressive Party and New Mon State Party. The paper also looked at how could these parties can integrate their polices coherently as part of the Interim Arrangements process of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

Nan Aye Aye Thwe, a researcher at ENAC highlighted the importance of recognizing customary land practices in different ethnic community areas to bring lasting peace in Myanmar.

“We need to include land policies and land governance that is being applied in ethnic community areas while we develop land law or discuss land issues at peace dialogues since these systems and policies were generated by the ethnic communities and we shouldn’t ignore this,” she said.

ENAC’s Executive Director, Dr. Nai Pon Nya Mon also emphasized the importance of this research paper for land management in Myanmar and developing better strategies for the country.

“All of the policy documents and research papers that ENAC have published can be used as supporting resources for Myanmar’s peacebuilding process, and I hope that these research papers can help provide potential ideas and recommendations for Myanmar’s land sector as we have analyzed different land governance systems based on both the national and international context,” he said.

The research paper on ‘Land Governance – Potential Recommendations and Suggestions for a future federal Union of Myanmar’ contains seven chapters which look at research methodologies and objectives; the principles of land governance; Myanmar and its land governance; international land governance; and analysis and policy recommendations.

In the recommendations section of their research book, ENAC suggested integrating different land governance systems from EAOs and the government as part of the interim arrangements process; holding public consultations on land law and drafting land laws at the Union Parliament that support the country’s peace process; and taking steps to ensure that men and women share the benefits of land ownership more equally.

ENAC plans to provide an advocacy briefing to the key EAOs leaders at their respective headquarters by using this research paper. They will also provide technical support and resources to both the government and the EAOs in development of their land policies and customary land management in different States and Regions. The event brought together over 40 representatives from political parties, NCA-S EAO office, Yangon-based Media, Embassies and INGOs including Transnational Institute, My Justice and International Growth Centre.