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Showing posts from June, 2013

Conference on Central-Local Relations in Constitutional Law in Asia

On 28-29 June 2013, a workshop is being held on 'Central-local Relations in Constitutional Law: In Asia and beyond' hosted by the Centre for Asian Legal Studies , Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.  The workshop seeks to address the following key issues: "Every constitutional system contains the possibility of localism and a tension between what must be done or decided at the centre and what should be done locally. Some systems such as federal ones contain more than one level of local self-government, in which case the tension operates in three dimensions. This issue affects countries as large as China and India; but also as small as Singapore and Taiwan. Constitutional law attempts to answer some of the questions that arise within this tension: What powers should be exercised locally? To what extent should the exercise of these powers be subject to central control, and how? How should fiscal balancing be effected between the two or three levels of gove

Myanmar, Civilian-military Relations and Constitutional Reform

The rule of law and the constitution matter. This is evident in Myanmar, where current steps towards constitutional amendment have the potential to determine the future direction of the country’s transition process. A key issue is whether the role of the military, as defined by the Constitution of Myanmar, will be changed.  A constitution in any democracy must clearly define the position of the military and provide for appropriate national defence, while providing mechanisms to prevent the misuse of power. There should be civilian control over the military, and the military should be subordinate to the executive arm of government in particular. To achieve this, the military cannot also be part of the legislature, nor have the power to appoint ministers. A range of constitutional approaches can limit military power. Some constitutions adopt a minimal approach and briefly refer to the military as subordinate to the executive, leaving other details for further regulation by the legis

ATLAS Agora at NUS

From 17-27 June 2013, the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore is hosting the Association of Transnational Law Schools  ATLAS Agora . The ATLAS Agora is an annual international conference for PhD students from several institutions of higher education, including : the London School of Economics and Political Science, New York University, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University (Toronto), Universidad de Deusto (Bilbao), University of Melbourne, Université de Montréal, Bucerius Law School (Hamburg), Bar-Ilan University (Tel Aviv), and NUS. The ATLAS Agora addresses issues such as comparative law; legal and regulatory responses to globalization; the development of the concept of transnational law; and the key issues concerning international governance. I will give two seminars, one on 'Current Issues in Indonesian Law: The Courts, Corruption and the Crime of People Smuggling', and the other with Prof Andrew Harding on 'The Legal System of Burma/Myanmar&

The Constitution and Emergency Powers in Myanmar

One of the key challenges as a transitional and democratising state is how the government of Myanmar will deal with social tensions and conflict that arise between religious and ethnic communities. The use of emergency powers is one response, although these powers raise serious questions about the capacity and role of a government to address complex social conflicts. Under the 2008 Constitution, the power to declare a state of emergency is dealt with at some length in Chapter XI (art 410 – 435). The President has exercised his wide powers to declare a state of emergency twice since the Constitution came into effect in 2011.  In this article, I critically examine the use of the constitutional power of emergency. I begin by analysing the response of the executive to the conflict in Rakhine state from June to October 2012, and in Meikhtila District in March 2013. I outline the key elements of emergency powers and identify the challenges to the rule of law inherent in the existing co

Burmese language study

I’ve been asked a few times recently where you can learn Burmese. Here are a few suggestions: 1.       If you are in Singapore, NUS Extension runs a beginners course if there are enough participants [although note that the course is based on the transliteration, not the Burmese script] 2.       Burmese by Ear , by John Okell is a free online resource 3.       John Okell’s set of 4 language books are an excellent, comprehensive resource 4.        There is a new Burma/Myanmar Language Learning facebook group, to keep you up to date on courses that are being run.   For more information on courses being run in 2013 and other available resources, see ‘Learning Burmese: courses and resources 2013’ posted by Justin Watkins on the facebook page

Report on Myanmar Constitutional Law Workshop

On 8-10 May 2013, a Constitutional Law Workshop was held in Yangon, organised  by the University of Sydney. Attended by a diverse group of participants, including members of parliament, civil society actors, education institutions and political parties, the workshop was a forum to discuss a broad range of constitutional issues from federalism to bills of rights and the separation of powers. A detailed report on the workshop is available here .

Report on Business and Human Rights in Myanmar Roundtable

Report on Business and Human Rights in Myanmar Roundtable On 17 April 2013, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law (CELRL), Melbourne Law School, co-hosted a roundtable on business and human rights in Myanmar. The roundtable brought together government, worker and employer representatives, academic experts, and civil society groups with an interest in issues around Australian investment and human rights in Myanmar. The discussion focused on the human rights challenges of operating in the country and the role of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the UN Guiding Principles), the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the OECD Guidelines) and other international standards, with a particular focus on the rights of workers. For the report on the roundtable, see here .