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Showing posts from July, 2015

Australia Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Workshops

Myanmar is currently at a pivotal moment in its political and legal history.  The Australia-Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project (AMCDP), a consortium of law schools devoted to generating understanding and support for constitutional democracy in Myanmar, have just returned from a series of two workshops. The workshops commenced in Mandalay for two days from 13-14 July, followed by a workshop on 16 July in the capital, Nay Pyi Daw.  The AMCDP is currently led by two UNSW Law Professors, Martin Krygier and Theunis Roux . Other UNSW Law participants included Dr Melissa Crouch and Associate Professor Adam Czarnota . UNSW Law staff were joined in Myanmar by Dr Nick Cheesman of ANU and Janelle Saffin, former member of Australian State and Federal Parliaments and a leading specialist on the politics of Myanmar.  The most recent workshops were run in co-operation with the leading inter-governmental institution, the Community of Democracies, with funding provided by the foreign

Asian Law and Policy Forum

On 6 August at 1 -2 PM Professor Colin Picker and I will hold an meeting in the staff common room to discuss the idea of creating a regular forum on Asian Law and Policy.  Please join us if you are currently doing research (or are interested in doing such research in the future) in relation to any part of the Asia-Pacific region (across all areas of law  - public law, private law, international law, law and society, etc.).  At the meeting we will discuss current and potential future projects and other activities that could be carried out by this forum.    Lunch will be provided but please rsvp for catering purposes. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to be kept informed please email me.

Special Issue on Religion in Myanmar

The Review of Faith and International Affairs will soon publish a special issue on religion in Myanmar. The volume includes contributions on a range of topics by several Burma Studies scholars. My own contribution is on the ' The Construction of Religion by Law in Myanmar '. The abstract is as follows: Mosque in Moulemein, July 2015. This article provides an overview of the broader shifts in state-religion relations in terms of constitutional and legislative changes in Myanmar since independence. This article examines the relation between religion and law in Myanmar more broadly, and questions how law has been used by the state to construct the idea of religion and ‘acceptable’ religious practise. It seeks to demonstrate that law has influenced the way religion is practised and understood in Myanmar, shaping both relations between religious communities and the state, and relations between Buddhist and non-Buddhist communities. It highlights three areas where law has bee

Book review: Opposing the Rule of Law

Every now and then, a book comes along that offers a fresh take on a topic that has become commonplace. The rule of law is a ubiquitous theme running through the law and development landscape and the way we think about law reform in this era. The empire that has become the rule of law has few limits, and is bolstered by endless programmes, videos, fact sheets, checklists, reports, measures and metrics. Yet a new book by Nick Cheesman, Opposing the Rule of Law: How Myanmar's Courts Make Law and Order  (CUP, 2015) challenges current conceptions of the political and legal ideal of the rule of law, and takes the conversation in an entirely new direction. This is a book of “firsts” in many respects, not least because it is the first major study of courts in Myanmar and the first to do so drawing primarily on Burmese-language documentation. Given the centrality of Myanmar to the current global rule of law project, the contribution and timing of Cheesman’s study on the rule of law in Mya

Electives on Southeast Asia at UNSW Law

Next year I will be offering two new electives at UNSW Law Faculty. The idea for electives came out of a survey I conducted of law students in the faculty, via the Law Student Society. Out of 52 respondents, 95% said they agreed that there should be more subjects on Asian law offered in the curriculum. I believe that there is a real need for our students to have the opportunity to study about legal systems in Southeast Asia, our regional neighbours. These courses will fit within and expand on the Law School’s existing engagement in the Asia Pacific region. They will equip students to understand core debates on the rule of law and law reform in Southeast Asia, and enable students to develop an informed appreciation for the legal systems and traditions in Southeast Asia. Islamic Law and Society This course will provide students with an introduction to Islamic law and society in Southeast Asia. The region of Southeast Asia provides a fascinating and complex site to consider many of

Why Myanmar needs constitutional review

Last week there was debate in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, or Union Parliament, over the future of the Constitutional Tribunal, one of the new institutions established under the 2008 constitution. In discussions over proposed constitutional amendments, it was suggested that the Constitutional Tribunal should be abolished. This proposal has been made with reference to claims that many common law systems around the world allow cases for constitutional review to be heard by the highest court in the general court system, rather than a separate judicial institution. Those in favour of this proposal have also emphasised the fact that it is civil law countries, rather than common law countries, that have established a separate institution to hear constitutional review matters. While both of these statements are true, these are not necessarily arguments for abolishing the Constitutional Tribunal. No country today is a “pure” common law or civil law system. It is true that the Supreme Court in

UNSW Law - Myanmar events

UNSW is contributing to a number of events happening in Myanmar in July together with partners in Myanmar.  On 9-10 th July, Professor Brendan Edgeworth and myself will teach at the Law Department at Mandalay University, as part of the MOU between UNSW Law and Mandalay University. My talk with focus on academic research skills and method in the context of comparative constitutional law. On 13-14 th July 2015, the Australia Myanmar ConstitutionalDemocracy Project will host a constitutional law workshop in Mandalay. This is a follow-on from events held in 2013 and 2014, but will be the first time it is run in Mandalay. The event is being funded by the Community of Democracies network. This event is organised by Professor Martin Krygier and Professor Theunis Roux. Then on 16 th July 2015, Professor Theunis Roux, Ms Janelle Saffin and myself will run a comparative constitutional law workshop for the Constitutional Tribunal in Naypyidaw.  Also, later in the year, I will be orga