Brownbag: Charting the Future of Constitutionalism in Myanmar

On 10 April 2018  I will give a brownbag seminar as a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies, the University of Melbourne. 

The talk is based on the first chapter of the book manuscript, The Constitution of Myanmar, which is part of Hart’s Constitutions of the World series.

Abstract: This timely and accessible book is the first to provide a thorough analysis of the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar (Burma) in its historical, political and social context. The book offers an in-depth exploration of the key elements of the 2008 Constitution in theory and practice. The book considers the historical foundations of the 2008 Constitution and the critical issue of legitimacy raised by the past process of constitution-making. The book identifies and articulates the constitutional principles of the 2008 Constitution, based on an analysis of legal and political process since 2011. It highlights critical constitutional contestations that have taken place over fundamental principles such as democracy, federalism, presidentialism, judicial independence and the role of the military. The book argues that the 2008 Constitution is a unique hybrid system, blending remnants of past liberal democratic and socialist constitutions with an agenda of military legality. The vision of military constitutional rule embedded in the constitutional text assumes faithfulness and conformity from the people. Already, this constitutional vision and its surrounding structure has been the subject of fierce contestation. Central to the future direction of constitutionalism in Myanmar is the issue of the role of the military in governance, and the extent to which the country will shift from a highly centralised system to a federal or decentralised system of governance.