This report provides an in-depth understanding of customary land dispute resolution in Kayin State, Eastern Bago Region and Shan State and its interaction with the formal statutory Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar(GORUM) system. A participatory community-based research approach was used to understand customary practices concerning land, including how land title is defined, enforced and how land disputes are contested, negotiated and resolved at the community level.

Based on the perceptions of local people and village leaders in the three research sites, the report identifies current practices as well as prior work on this topic in Myanmar and seeks to identify ongoing dispute resolution mechanisms and practices used by communities in ethnic nationality areas with a view to informing policy and programming on restitution. Key to this analysis is the question of what a genuine restitution process might look like in Myanmar and how customary practices might be integrated into it. Furthermore, if a genuine restitution process was established, what realistic capacity is there to integrate customary dispute mechanisms and authorities into it.

Based on in-depth qualitative research in 31 villages across 3 regions/states, it offers an insight into understandings of customary mechanisms that people use to regulate the use of land and the most important actors regarding dispute resolution, as well as their interaction with the formal system. This includes the following:

  • An analysis of key actors involved in customary practices of dispute resolution around Housing, Land and Property (HLP) issues
  • An analysis of power relations between the service providers of dispute resolution and disputants.
  • Public perceptions towards customary dispute resolution practices and their perceived strengths and constraints.
  • An analysis of the reasons why people choose to resort to customary dispute resolution mechanisms for their HLP issues (over the official state-sponsored mechanisms).
  • The existing relationship between customary dispute resolution practices and national statutory legal frameworks and its implications for justice and effective HLP dispute resolution.
  • How might national statutory legal frameworksin Myanmar integrate customary dispute resolution practices and authorities.

The use of customary and formal land laws and dispute mechanisms varies across research sites. However, research in these areas demonstrates the importance of customary land dispute mechanisms and the need to build more flexible policies to recognize customary land laws and authorities.

The full report can be accessed here: customary_land_disputes_resolution_