The Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar leads the National Land Use Policy Forum based on National Land Use Policy (NLUP-2016) on 2nd and 3rd October 2018 in Nay Pyi Taw. One of the most important things within the NLUP is coming out a National Land Law. We, Land in Our Hands (LIOH), welcome the initiative to develop a new land law. However, we strongly believe that law making process needs to be democratic that enables participation of affected and vulnerable people in decision making; guarantees the right of ethnic peoples & community to govern and manage land & natural resources; and solves existing land conflicts with socially just way.
The National Land Use Policy (NLUP) allows the collaboration of the smallholder farmers and civil societies in making decision on land use & management on farmland. We understand that smallholder farmers and civil societies have been given safeguards regarding the economic and political interests as well as large control over economic and development projects. To teem down these safeguards, the forthcoming National Land Law needs expanding its extent to the rights to land and land sovereignty of the people instead of pruning into property rights. There is the need to have the laws protecting & ensuring the accessibility, the right to use & the right to manage/control the farmland for farmers and providing remedies (land restitution) to societies suffered from past and current violation of these rights.
In the land policy drafting process that had started in 2014, the Government initially arranged to approve the policies, that had been drafted with the opinion of a minority of individuals from the government side, in a setup where only a few civil society organizations including farmers in a very short amount of time. However, LIOH network and allied such as many ethnic farmers and civil society organizations had worked to get the wider consultation process that brings many stakeholders’ contribution, and thus some good outcomes were achieved (despite many concern points still remain in the policy). For example, we were able to include provisions such as ethnic land rights, land restitution and harmonization of land related laws.