International Development Law Organization

Myanmar

During a period of historic democratic transition within Myanmar, the rule of law has emerged as a priority issue. The government of Myanmar has repeatedly emphasized the importance of strengthening rule of law for the development of the country as Myanmar emerges from decades of military rule. However, the legacy of policies that systematically undermined legal education, an independent judiciary and the private legal profession, combined with unchecked power of state officials and widespread corruption, have led to a serious lack of public trust in justice sector institutions and those who are responsible for dispensing justice. Public awareness of the law, and accountability of state actors for enforcing and upholding the law, will take many years of institutional change to achieve.

IDLO has been involved in a number of rule of law and access to justice projects in Myanmar since establishing a presence there in 2013, and established a field office in Yangon in October 2015.

Prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence in Myanmar

Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.

Reflections from Myanmar: Access to justice for SGBV survivors

Women and girls in Myanmar face many barriers when trying to access justice for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Chief among these are the pervasive negative attitudes which seek to justify and allow SGBV within families and communities. In addition, SGBV survivors are often stigmatized and blamed for the violence  preventing them from effectively pursuing legal remedies.

Strengthening local capacities for improved access to justice for women in Myanmar

Recent research shows that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is one of the leading problems impacting communities across Myanmar. Women in particular face significant and widespread levels of SGBV, with both formal and informal systems failing to provide satisfactory remedies. Inadequate legal protections, combined with pervasive cultural and social stigma, low public legal awareness, and deep mistrust in the formal justice system, pose a daunting range of barriers to accessing justice and other services such as legal, medical and psycho-social support.

Foundations of justice training in Myanmar

In recent years, civil society has played an increasingly important role in strengthening public legal awareness and advocating for access to justice in Myanmar. However, civil society is constrained by a limited understanding of the role of the legal system. Capacity development to enhance the knowledge and skills of civil society actors, as well as state accountability, remains a key priority.

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Key Initiatives

  • Strengthening prevention and accountability for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) through the rule of law and access to justice has been a priority for the Government of Myanmar since 2011, when it embarked on an unprecedented transition towards democracy. SGBV cases are rarely reported and, when they are, the justice sector fails to provide adequate remedies. Therefore, there is a widely recognized need to increase prevention of and accountability for SGBV.
  • Recent research shows that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is one of the leading problems impacting communities across Myanmar. Women in particular face significant and widespread levels of SGBV, with both formal and informal systems failing to provide satisfactory remedies. Inadequate legal protections, combined with pervasive cultural and social stigma, low public legal awareness, and deep mistrust in the formal justice system, pose a daunting range of barriers to accessing justice and other services such as legal, medical and psycho-social support.
  • In recent years, civil society has played an increasingly important role in strengthening public legal awareness and advocating for access to justice in Myanmar. However, civil society is constrained by a limited understanding of the role of the legal system. Capacity development to enhance the knowledge and skills of civil society actors, as well as state accountability, remains a key priority.
  • IDLO is supporting the training departments of the Myanmar Union Attorney General’s Office (UAGO) and the Office of the Supreme Court of the Union (OSCU) to strengthen their capacity development strategies. The long-term goal is to help justice sector institutions implement their strategic priorities of modernizing training programs by improving the knowledge, skills and abilities of judges, law officers and court staff, and enhancing their professional development.
  • The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have established four nationally operated Rule of Law Centres in Myanmar to provide communities with the knowledge, skills and values they need to address local justice issues through training, dialogue and access to resources.
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