The future of justice sector reform in Myanmar

On Friday 31 March 2017, I gave a talk at the World Bank office in Yangon on The Future of Justice Sector Reform in Myanmar. I reflected on the progress that has been made under the Thein Sein government and then the first year of the NLD, as well as areas in which progress still needs to be made. Unlike other regions of the world such as Latin America, where law and development support has evolved over many decades and gone through stages of judicial reform, access to justice, rule of law and informal justice focus, in Myanmar support for various aspects of the justice sector is occurring in an incredibly short space of time. I reflected upon the assassination of U Ko Ni as a potential turning point for the law reform process and for issues of conflict and state fragility. He was also an example of a lawyer who had contributed greatly to many justice sector projects and was able to bridge old and new ways of practicing law in Myanmar. Emerging areas of law such as commercial and corporate practice are likely to continue to change dramatically with the recent introduction of the new investment regulations 2017, and the forthcoming revisions to the Company Act. A range of other draft corporate and commercial laws remains in progress, including a draft patent law, copyright law, anti-dumping law, information technology law, and insolvency law. There is a need to ensure support and education both for government ministries that will be in charge of administering these lawyers, as well as for the new generation and pioneers of commercial legal practice in Myanmar.