The Recognition of Customary Tenure in Myanmar

TitleThe Recognition of Customary Tenure in Myanmar
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsAndersen KEwers
Paginationi-v1, 1-33
Key themesCivilSociety-Donors, Environment, Formalisation-titling, MarginalisedPeople, Policy-law

ABSTRACTED FROM EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This is one of four thematic studies on customary tenure in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam. These studies seek to present an analysis of customary tenure arrangements in each country and identify key challenges and opportunities for strengthening the legal recognition and protection of customary tenure. The present study on Myanmar focuses on customary tenure among upland ethnic nationalities, where colonial and state land administration systems have been poorly integrated, allowing customary systems to be sustained over time. Much like under British colonial power, the state has an ambiguous attitude towards customary systems: they are not formally recognized in law but in practice they are tolerated. Customary land is not titled and therefore at risk of alienation. The expropriation of many thousands of acres of farmers’ land during the military junta and its cronies since the 1980s, and the increase in foreign investments that has accompanied democratic reforms under the former Thein Sein government, have presented new and intensified risks to customary land, particularly in the uplands where most economic land concessions are granted. Without legal recognition and protection, land under customary tenure is vulnerable to appropriation by the state and commercial interests.


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