DS/NRC Report on Myanmar’s Next Challenge: Making Restitution a Reality and a Part of the Peace Process, march 2017
Displacement Solutions and the Norwegian Refugee Council have called for dialogue on the establishment of a new nationwide restitution programme that would return homes, land and properties to their rightful owners and its inclusion in the peace process. The new report Restitution in Myanmar: Building Lasting Peace, National Reconciliation and Economic Prosperity Through a Comprehensive Housing, Land and Property Restitution Programme explores both the progress made towards ending practices of land grabbing and forced displacement, as well as pointing out the still considerable gaps between law and policy in the country and international law and best practices.
Based on the extensive global restitution experiences of both organisations, the report takes the view that redressing housing, land and property abuses and creating pathways by which those affected can access legal remedies for these losses. Though some important strides have been made to address some manifestations of land grabbing by the NLD-led government, millions of people throughout the country and overseas, including refugees and IDPs, have not yet been able to formally reclaim their homes. The report argues that restitution must form a central component of the peace process and find a prominent place within any eventual peace agreements.
The report continues “To be consistent with international standards, the best practice of other States that have engaged in restitution and in the best interests of Myanmar, any restitution process must ensure, at a minimum, that everyone deserves, in accordance with the basic legal principle, an effective remedy for any acts of land confiscation determined by an independent, impartial and fair remedial body and commitments that such confiscation will not be repeated in the future.”
Recommendations are made towards dialogue on the establishment of a grassroots Myanmar Restitution Organisation to advocate for a new restitution law and programme, a renewed focus on restitution during peace negotiations, and that a process should begin now to debate restitution throughout the country, resulting in the drafting of relevant legislation, e.g., a new restitution law and claims mechanism, drawing on the restitution processes carried out in numerous other countries in recent decades.
The key author of the report, Scott Leckie, adds that “Despite historical political and economic reforms since 2011, Myanmar continues to face a series of seemingly intractable challenges. The peace process is viewed as increasingly stagnant, renewed human rights abuses and instability in Rakhine State have drawn the growing ire of the entire international community, political assassinations have been carried out and growing tensions between the NLD-led government and military are all too rapidly reducing the winds of hope that blew so strongly through the country just a year ago. There are concrete ways to get past at least some of these impasses, and we believe that implementing a national restitution programme could provide a constructive pathway to building stronger foundations for peace, reconciliation and democratic principles in the country.”
Prasant Naik, NRC Country Director in Myanmar, highlights the fact that “where Housing, Land and Property rights are at stake there needs to be effective remedies in place for displaced persons and other persons of concern. Ongoing efforts need to be strengthened in order to address the needs of those most vulnerable as an integral part of the peace process”.
Copies of the report are available here: Restitution in Myanmar and at www.nrc.no.
DS & Norwegian Refugee Council Urge the Application of the UN’s Pinheiro Principles Throughout Myanmar, march 2017
Displacement Solutions and the Norwegian Refugee Council today released a new publication outlining how Myanmar could constructively apply the UN’s Pinheiro Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons (2005) as a key tool to resolve ongoing forced displacement throughout the country. The booklet provides a brief history of the Pinheiro Principles and the full text of this historic document which provides comprehensive framework for securing HLP restitution rights for refugees and IDPs everywhere, including those from Myanmar. The publication is accompanied by a lengthier Introductory Guide on Understanding and Claiming Housing, Land and Property Restitution Rights in Myanmar: Questions and Answers which was also released today. Later this month, a 72-page legal analysis of HLP restitution issues in Myanmar, prepared for NRC by the DS Director Scott Leckie, will be published. This report examines the current state of affairs regarding restitution in the country and concludes with five specific recommendations that can be implemented to bring the dream of restitution ever closer to the millions of people from Myanmar who still have yet to resolve their outstanding claims for homes and lands from which they were forced to flee. The detailed report explores the vital nature of restitution within the context of the peace process and urges all parties to the peace negotiation process in the country to embrace restitution norms a central element in any quest for sustained peace and reconciliation. The first two reports can be accessed here: A Framework for Resolving Displacement in Myanmar and here: An Introductory Guide to Claiming HLP Restitution in Myanmar. Copies of all three reports will also be available in Myanmar (Burmese) and Karen.
NEW DS STUDY ON LAND ACQUISITION LAW AND PRACTICE IN MYANMAR, AUGUST 2014
DS has just completed a 70-page legal study examining Land Acquisition and Practice in Myanmar. Requested by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to carry out this in-depth survey based on DS’ many years working on land issues in the country, the study minutely analyses areas of Myanmar land acquisition laws against the comparatively strong provisions found in the IFC’s Performance Standards 1 and 5, the latter of which outlines rules on Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement when the IFC engages with client companies investing in locations potentially involving land acquisition measures. Given Myanmar’s lengthy and controversial practices of land acquisition – both historical and present – the study aims to assist companies to comply in full with the far more stringent IFC standards and, in turn, ensure that investments do not lead either to arbitrary land confiscation nor to any additional violations of the rights possessed by those living on affected land.
Land issues remain front and centre in the political reform process in Myanmar, and DS continues to be deeply involved on these issues through the work of its Myanmar HLP Initiative. Please contact DS if you would like to learn more about this and other projects we are engaged with in Myanmar – firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAND RIGHTS AND MINE ACTION IN MYANMAR, FEBRUARY 2014
Vast areas of land in Myanmar are currently contaminated by landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a legacy of decades of armed conflict between the national government and a wide range of ethnic armed groups.
With support from Norwegian People’s Action (NPA), Displacement Solutions (DS) carried out an extensive stakeholder consultation process within Myanmar and in Thailand in mid-2013 to gauge sentiments about the land rights-landmines nexus and to elicit the widest possible cross-section of views on principles and processes that should be applied to effectuate a Do No Harm approach.
Based on these inputs, as well as examination of the experiences of other countries and extensive additional research, this report sets forth two key sets of proposals for generating land rights-sensitive mine action in Myanmar. The first set of proposals identifies eight overarching humanitarian, democratic and community-sensitive principles that should inform mine action as it impacts upon land rights. The second set of proposals outlines a 14 step sequence, set forth step by step, that are intended to provide guidance for operationalizing the overarching principles as mine action proceeds.
To read the article, click here.
BRIDGING THE HOUSING LAND AND PROPERTY GAP, JUNE 2013
Displacement Solutions has presented Scott Leckie’s latest report Bridging the Housing Land and Property Gap at the Sedona Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar.
Bridging the HLP Gap urges government bodies and ethnic group representatives to recognise and address housing, land, and property (HLP) rights of refugees and IDPs affected during the country’s transitional phase. The report contains a number of recommendations to ensure unanimous agreement on the complex and vital issues comprising HLP rights as a foundation for sustainable peace. To read the article, click here.
MYANMAR AT THE HLP CROSSROADS, OCTOBER 2012
Myanmar at the HLP Crossroads is the first comprehensive report to focus on housing, land, and property rights (HLP rights) in Myanmar since President Thein Sein took office in March 2011. According to the main author of the report, Scott Leckie, “Myanmar now finds itself at a critical juncture. Whichever way the country decides to go will decisively shape the housing, land and property realities of everyone in the years to come. The decisions taken now need to well-informed, inspired by the best practices of other countries that have undergone structural political transition and based squarely on the will of the people”.
The report outlines four specific recommendations that it beleives can greatly improve the HLP prospects of the country in the coming period. Beyond calling for a National HLP Summit, the report also urges that work commence immediately to reform the inadequate and outdated HLP legal code in the country (including the revision of the two 2012 land laws) resulting in a consolidated National HLP Law, and for far greater attention to be paid to the consequences of land grabbing and speculation. To access the report, click here.
GUIDANCE NOTE ON LAND GRABBING AND SPECULATION IN THE NEW MYANMAR, JULY 2012
Though Myanmar/Burma has undergone unprecedented political change in recent months, the country is currently grappling with a severe land grabbing and speculation crisis. The DS Director, Scott Leckie, was requested to provide guidance to the Government about how to address these pressing issues, the views of which are contained in a guidance note on land grabbing and speculation which can be viewed here.
Housing, Land and Property Rights in Burma: The Current Legal Code, December 2009
Prepared by Scott Leckie and Ezekiel Simperingham.
The 1,245 page book Housing, Land and Property Rights in Burma: The Current Legal Code was published in late 2009. Since its publication, this comprehensive volume has been widely distributed throughout Burma and to groups comprising the international democratic movement for Burma. Displacement Solutions is currently organising a series of on-site distribution and discussion sessions of the issues raised in the book to groups in various location in Thailand.
Download or order the new book by Displacement Solutions – Housing, Land and Property Rights in Burma: The Current Legal Framework.
Download digital version (3.6MB)
DS Article “Housing, Land and Property Rights in Burma: Towards New Strategies”, April 2009
This DS article outlines the housing, land and property rights issues in Burma and proposes new strategies to address them. It was published by LawKa PaLa, a Legal Journal on Burma. It can be accessed here.