Constitutional Reform and the Peace Process in Myanmar

The purpose of this project is to support and equip key local actors to contribute to constitutional reform, democratic consolidation and lasting peace in Myanmar. This project builds on the work of the Australia-Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project of UNSW Law. The project has three main components. The first component is to host an international workshop on “Peace Processes, Federalism and Constitution-making” at UNSW from 6-7 December 2018. Five Distinguished Visiting Scholars from Myanmar will be sponsored to attend and present at the event. The second component of the project is the publication of a book, The Constitution of Myanmar: A Contextual Analysis (with Hart Publishing’s leading series on Constitutions of the world). The English and Burmese version of the book will be published and disseminated in 2019-2020. This timely book by Crouch is the first to analyse the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar (Burma) in its historical, political and social context. 

This accessible book provides an in-depth exploration of the key elements of the 2008 Constitution in theory and practice. This book will be an invaluable resource for students, scholars and local political actors to facilitate greater understanding and appreciation of constitutional law in Myanmar, and inform strategies for reforming the current constitution. The third component of the project is to initiate a series of workshops in Myanmar, which will use the book as the basis for capacity building on constitutional literacy. This builds on previous capacity building initiatives on constitution-making. In 2016, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) established a Myanmar Constitution (‘MyConstitution’) Centre in Yangon. The Centre focuses on education and advice to all Myanmar stakeholders, including political parties, members of parliament, ethnic armed groups, military, media and civil society organizations. Melissa Crouch was invited by International IDEA to provide recommendations for curriculum design, detailed in a report on “Curriculum Guidelines on Constitutional Design for the MyConstitution Centre” (2016), which aims to integrate best practise and knowledge in comparative constitutional design with deep knowledge of local Myanmar constitutional context. The following modules have been developed:

  • Feb 2017: Melissa developed and delivered the module on ‘Principles and Processes of Constitution-making’ in Yangon.
  • June 2017, Theunis Roux developed and delivered a module on ‘Land and Natural Resource Governance in Constitutional Design’ in Yangon.
  • Nov 2017, Melissa developed and delivered a module on Judicial Independence and Accountability to the Myanmar Supreme Court in Naypyidaw. 
  • Nov 2017, Melissa developed and delivered a module on Checks and Balances in Constitution-making to the International Relations Committee of parliament.
  • Feb 2018, Melissa delivered a series of lectures, workshops and consultations with parliament, civil society, ethnic groups, Yangon University and the Supreme Court around federalism, the role of courts in a federal system and judicial independence
  • June 2018, Melissa contributed to the Constitutional Academy Bootcamp in Pyin Oo Lwin
  • Jan 2019, Melissa taught at the University of Mandalay and the University of Yangon
  • Jan 2019, book launch hosted by The Asia Foundation in partnership with Mosaic Myanmar, with panellist Dr Lian H Sakhong, Saw Kapi and Htet Min Lwin
  • May 2020, Melissa delivered a course on the Constitution of Myanmar for Yangon School of Political Science
  • Nov 2020, Melissa delivered two courses on the Constitution of Myanmar for civil society, run by International IDEA
  • Jan 2021, Melissa delivered a course on the Constitution of Myanmar for law professors, run by International IDEA