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After decades of military rule, internal conflict, and international sanctions, under a new government in Myanmar there was emerging opportunity to consider how, if at all, to respond to the serious human rights violations of previous decades, and address ongoing violence that persists today, including in Rakhine (involving the Rohingya), Shan and Kachin States, and in the South East of Myanmar. The relative lack of mechanisms for prosecuting international crimes, and government opposition towards International Criminal Court and United Nations investigations, suggest that Myanmar’s leaders have rejected the norm of international criminal justice. Yet this chapter presents a complex story of ongoing contestation. It first reveals the historical engagement with international criminal law in Myanmar. It then analyses the themes different actors raise when they seek to influence international criminal justice in relation to Myanmar, before analysing Myanmar’s laws and institutions for responding to international crimes. It concludes that while Myanmar represents a highly challenging context for encouraging the prosecution of international crimes, there is a dynamic process of engagement with this norm.
If the anti-colonial experience had created solidarity networks harnessed to the idea of an interconnected umma, the emergence of nation-states set new frames of reference. In the “post-colonial moment” transnational networks of solidarity took form along leftist, Third-Worldist, labor unionist, or feminist ideologies. Islam only occasionally emerged as a site of connection. As secular ideologies came to rule Muslim communities, some sectors of these populations set out to re-insert Islam into the picture, sometimes in the realm of politics, sometimes in society, either through peaceful or violent means. But regardless of their intellectual scope or strategic modalities, the territorial unit of reference remained the nation-state. This was also evident for Muslim minority communities, even when their self-identified cultural-geographical expanse did not match extant political boundaries. Minorities’ concerns and desires pertained to being recognized as legitimate constituencies with their own self-determined identities. This chapter reflects on how Muslims, in both majority and minority contexts, have interfaced with broader societal communities and states to (re)define the role of religion in the "post-colonial moment" from specific case studies of Indonesia, Pakistan, the Soviet Republics of Central Asia, Singapore, India, and Burma/Myanmar.
How hard is it to change a constitution that was drafted by an authoritarian regime? What strategies might democratic actors adopt to change such a constitution, and what risks may they face? These dilemmas face democratic actors in Myanmar who seek to change the 2008 Constitution. In this chapter I introduce the contours and practice of Myanmar’s Constitution as a political order set in place by the former military regime. I identify and explore the different strategies that have been used to change the 2008 Constitution – formal constitutional amendment proposals in 2013–2015; informal constitutional change through judicial interpretation in the Constitutional Tribunal; and informal constitutional change in the form of the legislative innovation of the Office of the State Counsellor. These attempts at constitutional reform come with particular risks to democratic actors, personal, political, and institutional. I suggest that the risks of constitutional change are heightened during the first period of a constitution, particularly if the constitution has been designed to protect the interests of the former authoritarian regime.
Despite the election of a civilian government in Myanmar in 2015 – the first since 1962 – the transition from military rule to human rights-respecting democratic governance remains a major work in progress. This chapter examines the sociopolitical causes of current populist tensions in Myanmar, such as the historical roots of ultra-nationalism and militarization, which extend back to the country’s colonial past. Persistent military offensives against ethnic and religious minorities, most acutely against the Muslim Rohingya population, are supported by a populist culture of intolerance that not only threatens persecuted communities but places the future of democracy in Myanmar at risk. The stoking of violence in the Rohingya crisis is also linked to radical “Buddhist” organizations, including the 969 and MaBaTha (Race and Religion Protection Committee). The chapter closes by examining how the international community and human rights systems can still contribute to developing an inclusive, human-rights-based culture in Myanmar.
Thorny lacewings (Rhachiberothidae) are currently distributed only within Africa, whereas they are prevalent in the fossil record of various Cretaceous ambers across the Northern Hemisphere, with a handful of the fossil records from some Eocene European ambers. Four rhachiberothid species in four extinct genera are known from the mid-Cretaceous amber of northern Myanmar. Here, we report further examples of the remarkable palaeodiversity of this group from the same amber deposit, adding the four new fossil genera and seven new species: Acanthoberotha cuspis gen. et sp. nov., Astioberotha falcipes gen. et sp. nov., Stygioberotha siculifera gen. et sp. nov., Uranoberotha chariessa gen. et sp. nov., Creagroparaberotha cuneata sp. nov., Micromantispa galeata sp. nov. and M. spicata sp. nov. Based on a series of well-preserved specimens, we discuss the fine details of the raptorial forelegs and genital segments, which may be important for elucidating the phylogenetic relationships among genera. Our findings reveal an unexpectedly diverse assemblage of thorny lacewings in the Cretaceous System, highlighting the morphologically diverse rhachiberothids in Burmese amber. The discovery of seven additional rhachiberothid species in Myanmar amber suggests the potential for much higher diversity and abundance of the Cretaceous rhachiberothids than previously documented. Furthermore, morphological variation in the raptorial forelegs was found to be extremely diverse among the Burmese amber paraberothines, especially in terms of the size, number and shape of spines (or spine-like setae) on the inner edges of protibia, and the morphological structure of the probasitarsus.
Low intensity subsistence agriculture is generally believed to be less damaging to wildlife than intensive farming. As Myanmar is undergoing rapid modernization, subsistence farming may shift to intensive agriculture, resulting in increased threats to species of conservation concern such as the green peafowl Pavo muticus. Here we investigate habitat use of the green peafowl in a low intensity agricultural landscape surrounding a small forest fragment in southern Shan State, Myanmar. The forest belongs to Nan Kone Buddha Monastery and the green peafowl is protected from hunting in the area on the basis of religious beliefs. We established three survey transects with a total length of 3,414 m. During February 2016–January 2017 we conducted surveys twice daily for 4 consecutive days every month, walking all transects in both directions in the mornings and afternoons and recording visual and auditory peafowl encounters. We estimated peafowl density to be 2.63 animals/km2 in the less disturbed western part of the study area and 1.13 animals/km2 in the eastern part, which had higher levels of human disturbance. The peafowl's habitat use was significantly non-random, with forest patches being the most utilized habitat, followed by croplands. Within a 300 m buffer zone around the forest patch, the order of habitat preference was crop > scrub > fallow, with crop significantly preferred over the other two habitats. We conclude that preserved isolated forest blocks adjacent to community-managed agricultural areas are important for green peafowl conservation, and discuss the implications for long-term conservation management of the species.
Stunting increases a child's susceptibility to diseases, increases mortality, and is associated over long term with reduced cognitive abilities, educational achievement, and productivity. We aimed to assess the most effective public health nutritional intervention to reduce stunting in Myanmar.
We searched the literature and developed a conceptual framework for interventions known to reduce stunting. We focused on the highest impact and most feasible interventions to reduce stunting in Myanmar, described policies to implement them, and compared their costs and projected effect on stunting using data-based decision trees. We estimated costs from the government perspective and calculated total projected cases of stunting prevented and cost per case prevented (cost-effectiveness). All interventions were compared to projected cases of stunting resulting from the current situation (e.g., no additional interventions).
Three new policy options were identified. Operational feasibility for all three options ranged from medium to high. Compared to the current situation, two were similarly cost-effective, at an additional USD 598 and USD 667 per case of stunting averted. The third option was much less cost-effective, at an additional USD 27,741 per case averted. However, if donor agencies were to expand their support in option three to the entire country, the prevalence of 22.5 percent would be reached by 2025 at an additional USD 667 per case averted.
A policy option involving immediate expansion of the current implementation of proven nutrition-specific interventions is feasible. It would have the highest impact on stunting and would approach the WHO 2025 target.
Micromalthidae is a small relictual family of archostematan beetles that is well known for its unusual asexual reproductive system characterised by parthenogenetic, viviparous, larviform females and sterile adults. Here we describe the first micromalthid beetle from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber (ca.100Ma). Protomalthus burmaticus gen. et sp. nov. differs from all presently known micromalthid beetles by the presence of distinct frontoclypeal, labroclypeal, and medicranial sutures. The finding represents the first Mesozoic record of an adult micromalthid beetle and confirms a Gondwanan distribution of the family during the Cretaceous. A list of micromalthid beetles is provided, together with a key to extant and fossil species.
In 2013, a group of British aviation archaeologists began excavating in Myanmar in search of some 140 mint-condition crated Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire Mk XIV aircraft. According to their story, at the end of the Second World War, Allied forces in Burma were left with these unassembled aircraft. Without the funds to send them home, but unwilling to let the planes fall into enemy hands, they buried the crated planes in Mingaladon, Meiktila and Myitkyina. Like legends of pirate treasure, the story of these buried Spitfires carries with it fantastic aura and intrigue. For aviation fans, the pirate's gold is an iconic aircraft, meaningful in patriotic narratives for its role in the Battle of Britain. This paper will discuss this story as a form of military history folklore which is stoked by the orientalist perception that Burma/Myanmar's decades of military regimes and purported isolation indirectly ‘“preserved” the crated aircraft in time. As this paper will demonstrate, Burmese and others in Southeast Asia have their own legends of buried war materiel and treasure. This point, though largely lost on British aviation enthusiasts in their quest for their Spitfire ‘holy grail’, nevertheless crucially enabled their quest to manifest itself.
How can we better understand the complex interaction effects that are triggered when businesses and international government agencies become partners in social development? To answer, this article presents field experiences of Heineken in the Democratic Republic of Congo, ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and the United Nations Global Compact in Dubai, to show the impact of key multi-stakeholder business-development policies as experienced by millions of people. These cases help us understand business and sustainable development interactions by exploring existing research gaps regarding issues of discourse, guidance, and legitimacy. This article has four aims: (1) to show that business-development interactions are much more complex than most case studies are able to encapsulate; (2) to explore how unintended ripple effects of even the most promising “win-win” business-development policies can carry catastrophic consequences; (3) to illustrate the potential benefits of a novel methodology for future research on business, global governance, and sustainable development; and (4) to show how business and development concerns interconnect across and through the macro- and meso-levels of analysis down to local livelihood interactions and impacts. I contextualize these experiences to emerging scholarship, opening avenues for building theory and improving policy on business, development, and peace.
Imprisoned under house arrest for fifteen years over a twenty-one-year period, from 1989 to 2010, the Burmese pro-democracy leader and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi became one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners and the face of the Myanmar opposition movement. In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace “for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.”1 Over the course of her imprisonment, Aung San Suu Kyi was the subject of six WGAD opinions. The author was hired by her family to serve as her international counsel from mid-2006 until her release on November 13, 2010. He worked with Aung San Suu Kyi’s local counsel, U Nyan Win and U Kyi Win, along with countless others globally, to utilize the latter three opinions, in combination with political and public relations advocacy efforts, to advance efforts to secure her freedom and that of other political prisoners from the military junta. Under house arrest, Aung San Suu Kyi was denied access to virtually everyone from the outside world other than her doctor, domestic lawyer, occasional diplomat friendly to the military junta, and Liaison Minister for the then-junta U Aung Kyi.
The remaining large patches of lowland forest in Tanintharyi, southern Myanmar, are the last global stronghold for the Endangered Gurney's pitta Hydrornis gurneyi. Except for a few individuals, the remaining population is now restricted to this forest, below 150 m altitude, mostly within the Nga Wun, Lenya, and Parchan Reserved Forests. However, as in much of South-east Asia, Tanintharyi has been subjected to extensive deforestation, particularly for oil palm cultivation. The aim of this research was to determine the extent of remaining habitat suitable for Gurney's pitta. During January–October 2016 we revisited 142 locations (of 147) where the species was detected during 2003–2012, and found it in only 41 of those locations (29%); in all other locations the forest had been cleared. We measured the decline of suitable habitat since 1999 by examining all available intact forest in areas with elevations < 150 m and slope < 10 °. In less than 2 decades suitable habitat has declined from 3,225 to 656 km2 (80%). Protection of remaining lowland forest is now critical. Although the expansion of oil palm cultivation has slowed since its peak in the early 2000s, two national parks proposed by the Myanmar government in 2002, which would potentially offer legal protection for most of the remaining Gurney's pitta habitat, remain on hold because of political uncertainties. We recommend an alternative conservation approach for this species, based on an Indigenous Community Conserved Area model, and further research to improve knowledge of the species and to determine how it could be saved from extinction.
The objective of the present study is to summarise trends in under- and over-nutrition in pregnant women on the Thailand–Myanmar border. Refugees contributed data from 1986 to 2016 and migrants from 1999 to 2016 for weight at first antenatal consultation. BMI and gestational weight gain (GWG) data were available during 2004–2016 when height was routinely measured. Risk factors for low and high BMI were analysed for <18·5 kg/m2 or ≥23 kg/m2, respectively. A total of 48 062 pregnancies over 30 years were available for weight analysis and 14 646 pregnancies over 13 years (2004–2016) had BMI measured in first trimester (<14 weeks’ gestational age). Mean weight at first antenatal consultation in any trimester increased over the 30-year period by 2·0 to 5·2 kg for all women. First trimester BMI has been increasing on average by 0·5 kg/m2 for refugees and 0·6 kg/m2 for migrants, every 5 years. The proportion of women with low BMI in the first trimester decreased from 16·7 to 12·7 % for refugees and 23·1 to 20·2 % for migrants, whereas high BMI increased markedly from 16·9 to 33·2 % for refugees and 12·3 to 28·4 % for migrants. Multivariate analysis demonstrated low BMI as positively associated with being Burman, Muslim, primigravid, having malaria during pregnancy and smoking, and negatively associated with refugee as opposed to migrant status. High BMI was positively associated with being Muslim and literate, and negatively associated with age, primigravida, malaria, anaemia and smoking. Mean GWG was 10·0 (sd 3·4), 9·5 (sd 3·6) and 8·3 (sd 4·3) kg, for low, normal and high WHO BMI categories for Asians, respectively.
Few studies on the legacies of the Chinese Civil War have examined its effects on state consolidation in the borderland area between China and mainland South-East Asia. This paper empirically examines the impact of the intrusion of the defeated Kuomingtang (KMT) into the borderland area between China, Burma and Thailand. In the People's Republic of China (PRC), the presence of the US-supported KMT across its Yunnan border increased the new communist government's threat perceptions. In response, Beijing used a carrot-and-stick approach towards consolidating its control by co-opting local elites while ruthlessly eliminating any opposition deemed to be in collusion with the KMT. In the case of Burma, the KMT presence posed a significant challenge to Burmese national territorial integrity and effectively led to the fragmentation of the Burmese Shan State. Finally, in Thailand, Bangkok collaborated with the Americans in support of the KMT to solidify its alliance relations. Later, Thailand used the KMT as a buffer force for its own border defence purposes against a perceived communist infiltration from the north. This paper contextualizes the spill-over effects of the Chinese Civil War in terms of the literature on how external threats can potentially facilitate state consolidation.
Starting from the imperfect nature of Myanmar's democracy, this paper aims to answer two questions. First, can Myanmar's transition be defined as a case of democratization, or is it, rather, a case of authoritarian resilience? To state this differently: is the progress enjoyed by Myanmar's polity the outcome of an ongoing process that is supposed to lead to a fully fledged democracy, or, rather, an attempt to enshrine elements of authoritarian governance under a democratic guise? Second, if the balance leans towards the latter instead of the former, how did authoritarian resilience work in Myanmar? The transition is analysed from a long-term perspective, moving from the 1988 pro-democracy uprising up to the most recent events. Data were collected from available published sources and from three fieldworks conducted by the authors in Myanmar. The paper concludes that Myanmar's transition is better understood as a case of authoritarian resilience than as democratization and highlights three core traits of Myanmar's authoritarian resilience: first, the very top-down nature of the political transformation; second, the incumbents’ ability to set the pace of political reform through the use of repression and political engineering; and third, the divide-and-rule strategy used as a means to keep contestations separated and local.
Inspired by the famous Prisoner's Dilemma game theory model, Karin Marie Fierke introduced the Warden's Dilemma to explain self-sacrifice and compromise in asymmetric interactions and to show that such an explanation requires a social ontology. She applied her model to Irish Republican Army hunger strikes in 1980–1981. Her model, however, closely resembles what game theorists call a ‘nested game’. This article (re)introduces the nested Warden's Dilemma, focuses on the tripartite relationship inherent to the model and examines hunger strikes as part of a strategy potentially informed by instrumental rationality and knowledge of the Warden's Dilemma dynamic. After briefly discussing the implications of approaching self-sacrificial behaviour from a rationalist perspective, a case study of strategic non-violence in Myanmar (Burma) demonstrates how third parties can both diffuse instrumental rationality regarding political self-sacrifice and facilitate patterns of resistance that appear to capitalize on the Warden's Dilemma dynamic.
A new species, Begonia rheophytica (§ Platycentrum), is described from northern Myanmar; it was initially confused with B. rhoephila, which is confined to Peninsular Malaysia. Comparison with other species with a rheophytic leaf shape is made. This new addition brings the number of currently recognised Begonia species in Myanmar to 73. An updated checklist of Myanmar Begonia species is also included.
Democratic transitions are often followed by conflict. This article explores one explanation: the military’s strategic use of violence to retain control of economically valuable regions. The authors uncover this dynamic in Myanmar, a country transitioning from four decades of military rule. Fearing that the new civilian government will assert authority over jade mining, the military initiated violence in mining townships. Using geocoded data on conflict and jade mines, the authors find evidence for this strategic use of violence. As Myanmar started to transition in 2011, conflicts instigated by the military in jademining areas sharply rose. The article also addresses alternative explanations, including a shift in the military’s strategy, colocation of mines and military headquarters, commodity prices, opposition to a controversial dam, and trends specific to Kachin State. With implications beyond Myanmar, the authors argue that outgoing generals can use instability to retain rents where plausible challengers to state authority provide a pretense for violence.
The invisibility of migrants has been widely analysed in relation to states’ policies and practices. I argue in this article that emphasising the role of states and institutions in marginalising vulnerable populations by rendering them invisible throws a shadow over the multifaceted ways in which migrants interpret and relate to invisibility. Among Myanmar migrants in Thailand, as we shall see here, the notion that invisibility provides a protective shield to migrant bodies is in fact widespread. While invisibility is at times perceived as a threat to the future of these people, conceiving of invisibility solely as a tool of domination precludes us from fully understanding the complexity of Myanmar migrants’ experiences in Thailand and, more specifically, the many forms of empowerment that shape these experiences. Privileging the discourses and practices of Myanmar migrants in Thailand about their sartorial choices reveals that migrants appreciate invisibility for its capacity to create control over their own bodies. Further, it reveals the complexities of negotiating and expressing diasporic sartorial conventions.