CSO’s Statement on the effort for adopting the REDD+ National Strategy

[Unofficial English Translation]

CSO’s Statement on the effort for adopting the REDD+ National Strategy

3 May 2018

We know REDD+ National Strategy (draft) is going to be adopted in Myanmar. It is important to respect and recognize the self-determination and customary practices of each and every ethnicity. Moreover, any process related to natural resources under customary governance in ethnic areas needs free prior informed consent; and it is the fact that we believe.

We have noticed that the whole process of REDD+ is not sufficient in getting the consent of ethnic communities and public consultation especially the potentially affected communities and the effort to invite those communities in the process of consultation is not sufficient. In addition, there is no meaningful consultation with the local communities from the areas where this strategy would promote attraction for resource extractions.

The people from natural resource rich ethnic areas need sufficient amount of time to get & digest the complete information on REDD+ and to be gender sensitive & inclusive process. The people have the rights to information which is not only about the plan & the National Strategy but also the consequences of it. Moreover, the livelihoods of ethnic peoples from decades long arm conflicts areas are relying customarily on forest and natural resources. The marginalizing & exclusive processes are pushing those peoples towards unsecured & deteriorate lives.

REDD+ would create potential misunderstandings under existing peace building process; would become a cause for serious potential conflicts in mixed control areas (the Government and ethnic armed organizations).

Lastly, the strategy document is mentioning that shifting cultivation is the reason of deforestation; without concrete & clear evidence. That citation is not correct according to systematic studies in practice. The strategy is not discussing on industrial & infrastructure projects (especially transnational roads passing through the forests).

Civil society organizations demand the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the organizations supporting for development of Myanmar REDD+ National Strategy the following points.

  1. To respect the indigenous peoples’ rights to govern their natural resources; and to halt the process till supportive & protective measures are in place for customary land rights and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples
  2. To proceed wider and meaningful public consultations with communities and key local actors (including civil society organizations, smallholder farmers, people living in rural areas and conflict affected areas)
  3. To analyze conflict sensitivity for strategy development and to include in the current peace building & national reconciliation process.
  4. To ensure REDD+ strategy is for promoting human wellbeing and not for diminishing.

Contact

  1. Saw San Ngwe    (09-793958791)
  2. Saw Alex                (+66-967656615, 09-793595873)
  3. Ma Kamoon         (09-401601822)

LIOH Strategy Workshop 2017

Strategy workshop on the existing legal reform efforts on land

Yangon, December 2017

On 11 and 12 of December 2017, LIOH hosted a national workshop strategizing the existing legal reform efforts on land. 57 leaders from 35 organizations who are active in land issues participated in the workshop. LIOH logo was selected and approved by this workshop.

The meeting records are available only in Burmese language:
* Summary report
* Detail report (Only for network allies)

LIOH’s Feedback on the Farmland Law amendments

The 2012 Farmland law does not protect either smallholder farmers or real farmers. Moreover, it cannot resolve the current land disputes. It is a law that encourages businessmen, companies and land confiscation. The Bill to amend the 2012 Farmland law will neither protect the farmers nor be effective at all. The current lands laws do not respect customary right to land in ethnic areas at all. Thus, a new farmland law must be developed instead of amending the 2012 Farmland law, that respects, protects and promotes the rights of small-holder farmers across the country.

Thus, while we welcome any initiative to revise the current Farmland Law, we feel very strongly that the nature and character of the currently proposed amendments are not what is needed. They fail to address the true weaknesses of the existing law and at the same time they move regulation of land even further in the wrong direction.

Thus, while we welcome any initiative to revise the current Farmland Law, we feel very strongly that the nature and character of the currently proposed amendments are not what is needed. They fail to address the true weaknesses of the existing law and at the same time they move regulation of land even further in the wrong direction.

Read the full LIOH’s position & feedback on the Farmland Law (English) (Burmese p.1-6; Burmese p.7-12).

Read . . . LIOH’s Statement on the Farmland Law Amendments

LIOH Statement on the Farmland Law amendments

From 17-19 July 2017 in Yangon, we, the members of Land In Our Hands network- (90) representatives from (48) organizations of each and every State and Region — discussed and analyzed the 16 points Farmland law amendment bill published in The Mirror daily newspaper on 16th June 2017 for public consultation; and have issued the following statement:

1. In our consideration, the existing 2012 Farmland Law and the 2012 Vacant, Fallow, Virgin Land Law have been drafted without meaningful consultation or getting the (informed) opinion and consent of the farmers who are 70% of the population of the country. These laws also have neglected the customary land tenure of ethnic nationalities as well as the important cultural and historical values of land and intended to consider land as a commodity for buying and selling, resulting in further complication and worsening of the current land issues. For example, amending the provisions about seasonal crops can be interpreted as favoring project crops, so we consider these as dangerous amendments. In addition, this law to amend the current farmland law does not comply with and does go against the National Land Use Policy (2016), so we find the amendment law to be a backtracking amendment with the effect of moving backward and undermining the NLUP.

2. Since current laws have been developed without the consent of the farmers and communities, they do not provide protection for land tenure and social security of the farmers. This process of reforming the current laws in turn has been a rushed and driven one, so the plan to do a consultation for farmland law amendment poses the danger/risk to make current land disputes and issues even more complicated.

3. We strongly object to the fact that this farmland law amendment draft hearing session in the parliament will not gain any effective changes at all, since public-elected parliamentarians have not gone through any activities to listen to the voice, opinions and desires of the farmers and the communities.

4. Essentially, we earnestly demand that the timeframe for public hearing of farmland law amendment draft be modified so that the opinions, perspectives and independent recommendations of the farmers and communities can be incorporated into the farmland law amendment process.

5. We want to meet and discuss our findings and analysis with the parliamentarians prior to any discussion or hearing of farmland law amendment bill.

(Download the statement in Burmese or English)

Read . . . LIOH’s Position & Feedback on the Farmland Law & Amendments

LIOH’s Comment on the Draft National Land Use Policy

National Land Use Policy of Myanmar: Our Response and Recommendations

“The land use policy will have significant impacts on all land use types in the whole country including small-scale to large-scale land users. It is important to balance land use for country’s economic development and promote social justice with equitable tenure rights and control of land, forests, fisheries, water and associated natural resources, for all, with special emphasis on women, youth, poor, vulnerable and marginalized peoples”

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report analyzes and provides feedback on the draft National Land Use Policy (NLUP) of Myanmar made public on October 18, 2014. It is based on eight consultation workshops organized across the country by Land in Our Hands (LIOH). LIOH is a farmer network of more than 60 community based organizations (CBOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) dedicated to promoting, protecting, respecting, and fulfilling the land tenure rights of small-scale farmers and fisherfolks, particularly rural women and ethnic communities. LIOH welcomes the unprecedented opportunity to take part in this very crucial land policy making process at time when Myanmar is at a crossroads.

The success of Myanmar’s reform process is tied to resolving the country’s land crisis, and at the same time, there is a need to protect communities’ lands from confiscation in this climate of increased foreign investment. The NLUP will play an important role in addressing both of these concerns, and the current draft contains several promising aspects. However, LIOH has also identified many serious flaws in the policy-making process and the policy itself, and this report is our way of offering a sincere and forthright response to the draft NLUP, including specific recommendations.

Of the utmost concern is the undemocratic process by which the NLUP has been drafted. Although drafting of the policy began in late 2013, it was not made publicly available until October 2014. At this time, the Myanmar government planned to collect feedback in just 17 consultations of 3 hours each within 18 days in 14 states and regions. The short time frame meant local communities were ill prepared to provide feedback on a long, and technical document. It is this flawed consultation process that prompted LIOH to hold its own consultations, analyze the draft policy, and provide its own feedback. We recommend that the government of Myanmar further extends the deadline for public comment and publicizes the draft NLUP widely in local languages online and through the media, both independent and state-owned.

The content of the draft NLUP also falls short of following international norms and best practices as outlined in the United Nations Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. It does not prioritize small-scale farmers, minority ethnic peoples and other poor, vulnerable and marginalized sectors of society, nor does it provide sufficient measures to prevent them from being dispossessed of their land and livelihoods. Instead, the policy prioritizes and gives special privileges to business investors, which could spark more land grabs and create more land problems within the country.

LIOH recommends that the policy must be re-drafted to reflect the overarching principles of human dignity, non-discrimination, gender equality, holistic and sustainable approach, rule of law, good governance, and free prior and informed consent. Furthermore, the policy should detail clear answers to the following questions: Whose rights, what rights, what purpose, and who gets to decide?

Specifically, the NLUP must respect ethnic land policies, outline a dispute mechanism with local participation, include a mechanism for redistributive land reform, and recognize the right of returning refugees to restitution of their land and property. Furthermore, the land classification system must be revised, and the people using the land must be involved in the classification process. The categories of “vacant, fallow, virgin land” and “permanent taungya” are unacceptable to people in ethnic territories. The NLUP must also include truly bottom up decision-making and participation in survey assessment, zoning, and information creation and management. It must protect the specific rights and needs of women, and protect the right of ethnic communities to practice shifting cultivation. The policy must also implement safeguards to protect the land tenure rights of communities threatened by project concessions, following the UN Guidelines on Development Related Evictions and Displacement. Lastly, the NLUP should provide for a clear, impartial, and independent monitoring process to evaluate the policy and recommend improvements.

Time should be taken for the National Land Use Policy to be re-drafted with the full inclusion and meaningful participation of representatives of small scale farmers, ethnic groups, women, youth and other people and communities who will be most effected, as well as parliamentarians and independent experts.

Read full document . . . English / Burmese

A Call to The Republic of the Union of Myanmar to “Promote Land Ownership, Sustainable land Use and Family Farming” 

Land in our hands, food for everyone

A call to the Government, the Parliament and the Judiciary of the Union of Myanmar Republic to promote, protect, respect and fulfill the land tenure rights of small-scale farmers, fishers, forest dwellers, rural women, rural youth, and ethnic communities

October 16, 2014

Introduction: Who we are and why we are making this statement

  • We, the Land In Our Hands network, an initiative of small-scale farmers, community-based organizations and other civil society organisations from across Myanmar, greet and celebrate the “World Food Day”.
  • We, the small-scale farmers, fishers, forest dwellers, rural women, rural youth, and ethnic communities who are the backbone of the country’s food production, celebrate the marking of this day as the day when our crucial role in feeding families and communities throughout the Union is recognized, remembered and appreciated. The problematic
  • However, large-scale land deals, or land grabs by private or public corporate actors in the name of food security are on the rise in the Union of Myanmar Republic, in spite of under current process of democratic reform. Many of these deals are made under the pretext that lands are unused or underused but in most cases affected communities have shown otherwise. In fact, we small-scale farmers, fisherfolks, rural women and ethnic communities are being either displaced and physically dispossessed of, or losing our effective control over, our most important means of food production and subsistence: our land and water. This results in our inability to feed ourselves, our communities and our peoples, in addition to loss of jobs and negative environmental impacts and growing social unrest
  • Lack of or counterproductive regulatory and institutional frameworks result in the lack of state support to protect, respect and fulfill our land tenure rights, and also lack of support for small scale food farming and fishing, inspite of its important role in feeding the country and its peoples. Our main call and concrete demands In striving for durable peace and genuinely equitable and sustainable development in the country, and within the spirit of current democratic reforms, “Land In Our Hands” calls on the Government, the Congress and the Judiciary of the Union of Myanmar Republic to promote, protect, respect and fulfill the land tenure rights of small-scale farmers and fisherfolks, and particularly of rural women and ethnic communities. Specifically, we call the Union State to:
  1. Reform its national land policy and law so that they focus in promoting, protecting, respecting and fulfilling the tenure rights of small-scale farmers, fisherfolks, rural women and ethnic communities.
  2. Create a space and support effective participation of all representatives of small- scale farmers, fisherfolks, rural women and ethnic communities, in reforming the land policy and law
  3. Adopt the necessary and appropriate policy, legal, institutional and budgetary frameworks to recognize protect, respect and fulfill land tenure systems of indigenous ethnic peoples and other communities with customary tenure systems
  4. Ensure the rights of women to land and food are protected and fulfilled within the reformed land regulatory framework.
  5. Acknowledge in the land policy and law that land, fisheries, and forests have social, cultural, spiritual, economic, environmental and political meaning and value to indigenous ethnic peoples and other communities with customary land tenure systems and living on and off these farmlands, fisheries and forests.
  6. Promote, protect, respect and fulfill in the land policy and law the right of small-scale farmers, fisherfolks, rural women and ethnic communities to exercise self-governance of the land, sub-soil, fisheries, water and forests in their communities.
  7. Create a genuine legal land disputes solving mechanism and system that allows farmers, community members and all members of representatives of respective sectors to participate in solving natural resources and land-based disputes and conflicts in the whole country.
  8. Guarantee the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and consultation standards to ensure that the rights of small scale food producers and local family farming communities are protected
  9. Put a legal moratorium to all current mega development projects (including roads and hydro-power mega-dams) and land deals of any type (such as those related to mining, oil extraction, lodging and farming including contract farming arrangements) in ethnic areas until the land, water and forest tenure rights of small-scale farmers, fisherfolks, rural women and ethnic communities are appropriately promoted, protected, respected and fulfilled by the state in its land policy and law.
  10. And, last but not least, open up to our aspirations and voices in working toward a genuine peace and political solutions.

In sum, Land In Our Hands believes that unless all of the above mentions are urgently and appropriately addressed, Myanmar will not be able to find a durable peace and sustainable development for all the people and peoples of Myanmar. World Food Day is a good moment to reflect not only how much small scale farmers, fishers, rural women, rural youth and ethnic communities already contribute to the food security of Myanmar. It is also a great moment to reflect on how much more we have to contribute so that together we can be part of ensuring a positive transition to a better, more just and peaceful society.

Contacts
Si Thu: 09403706052 (Burmese)
Saw Alex: 09254207842 (Burmese and English)

(Download the statement in Burmese or English)