Request for information sharing: Community Engagement in formal Land Management / land conflict resolution mechanism

Dear All,

We @namati_myanmar are planning to provide inputs for the parliament members regarding the role of community representatives as a member of formal mechanism setup by the government of Myanmar.

As a part of inputs, we would like to show examples of different approaches and experiences in different context in different countries about how the members of community are representing and participating in the process of decision making or giving recommendation/suggestions within the formal government system.

We would be pleased to learn your experiences and approaches regarding Community Engagement in formal Land Management / land conflict resolution mechanism.

The experiences are not just limited to land as the engagement of community and the experiences in different sectors such as health @namati_mozambique or environment @meenakshikapoor or citizenship @namati_citizenship or community land protection @namati_clp , etc. would also be helpful for us. Thank you very much.

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Hi @yeyinth,

Unfortunately, we do not have too much to share. In the past, our partners have supported communities to participate in government-led consultation processes on proposed laws and regulations in Liberia and Kenya - but that is really all we have done to support community members to engage directly with government decision making process. We plan to do much more of this in the future. One thing we have learned, however, is that it can be very helpful for paralegals to prepare community members to participate in these process. In addition to helping them to understand the law, it can be helpful for paralegals to help communities frame their feedback and clearly articulate the points that they want to make.

Sorry that we don’t have more to share!

Jaron

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Dear Jaron,

Thank you very much for your response.

Dear @yeyinth In relation to your topic above, I will mainly focus on Kenya. Public participation is anchored in the Kenya constitution 2010 in Part 5—Parliament’s General Procedures and Rules article 118 (1) (b) that sets out the guiding principles:

Parliament shall facilitate public participation and involvement in the legislative and other business of Parliament and its committees.

This led to the the Public participation bill of 2016 that clearly sets out the procedures of public participation in section 4 (a) - (i):

Public participation in governance processes shall be guided by the following principles – (a) that the public, communities and organizations to be affected by a decision shall have a right to be consulted and involved in the decision making process;

(b) provision of effective mechanisms for the involvement of the public, communities, organizations and citizens that would be affected by or that would be interested in a decision;

© participants’ equitable access to the information they need to participate in a meaningful manner;

(d) that public views shall be taken into consideration in decision making;

(e) development of appropriate feedback mechanisms;

(f) adherence to the national values under Article 10 of the Constitution;

(g) adherence to the principles of leadership and integrity set out in Chapter Six of the Constitution;

(h) adherence to the principles of public participation as may be prescribed by any written law; and

(i) promotion of sustainable decisions recognising the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.

This includes participation in formulation and review of proposed bills, participating in parliamentary committees as witnesses for example when the committees visit their areas to get public opinions and even budget making process both in the county and National level.

As the Citizenship team we have also participated in the review process of the Registration of persons bill of 2014 and even used the paralegals to collect signatures to attach to our letter of asks that we later sent to several members of parliament.

In another case where the communities participated is in 2015 where the Kinna community of Isiolo petitioned the Senate to debate on Measures to Mitigate Human-Wildlife Conflict (The Kenya parliament The Senate The Hansard Tuesday, 19th May, 2015) These are just a few examples of how I have seen public participation work in Kenya. I hope this is of help. Feel free to ask more clarifications if needed.

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Dear Mustafa,

Thanks for this interesting information regarding component of public participation in the legislation and governance in the constitution. It give us thoughts to reflect the issues linked with the limitations under the constitution. Thank you very much.

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Dear Ye Yinth

In late 2015 we organized in Myanmar a conference to establish an intitiative to support textile workers in textile producing countries including Myanmar through regular reporting about the observation of good working standards in their factories (see Garment Industries Transparency Initiative (GITI). The Government representatives were quite open to these ideas, which are based on multi-stakeholder inputs of community representatives to transparency in the textile sector. Would you be interested to help GITI in reviving this concept in your Country?

Best regards Peter Eigen

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Dear Peter,

Many thanks for your message. We currently focus our work in the land sector and would be linking you when we got chance some time in future. Thanks again.

@peigen thanks for contributing to our forum! It’s great to have you as a member.

The link you provided for GITI is in german - do you have another link in english?

Do you think you could tell us some more about your multi-stakeholder concept and how you applied it in your various initiatives over the years? I think that can be quite helpful for @yeyinth who is seeking examples of community engagement from various sectors, not just land.

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The link for GITI is in German, but once you open it you will find a very extensive record of our conference in Myanmar in English.

The essence of these multistake-holder transparency initiatives is their control by working groups in the participating countries composed of representatives of civil Society organisations, governments and companies. The deliberation of These three sections of society can produce mutual understanding of the different perspectives, joint diagnosis of governance problems, joint proposals for reforms and their implementation – often beginning with a joint presentation of relevant facts. We have experienced the impact of this interaction since 25 years with Transparency International (TI), and later with the Extractive Industries Transparency Inidiative (EITI). We call it the “Magic Triangle for better Governance”.

In the case of GITI we would like to strengthen stonger participation of the textile workers and their unions in producing with the companies (including factory owners ) and the government, credible Information about the implementation of agreed working Standards.

The situation in the textile sector is of course quite different from the land issues Ye Yinth is focussing on – but maybe there is a chance of some cross-sectoral learning. On land matters you may want to look at a new report issued by the Humboldt-University zu Berlin: Land Corruption Risk Mapping (SLE Publication Series -S270-1). This report focusses on Kenya, but maybe useful for Myanmar as well, and can be downloaded from the SLE Website:

https://www.sle-berlin.de

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I’m keen interested in that issue. I’m working at Land-related Dept. And I’m also the author of Land issues. Best Regards, San Lwin Oo.

Dear @yeyinth,

Another very important aspect to consider is a robust and vigilant network of paralegals. I share from our community land protection experience here in Kenya. The paralegals had received extensive training and were aware of the community land law which was being drafted then. They were supporting communities to proactively take advantage of the new law being drafted, they had also closely interacted with the local government (County and Subcounty leaders) on the same.

So when it was time for consultation (stipulated in the constitution as cited above by @mustafa_mahmoud) on the regulations of the new community land law, the public consulting taskforce visited the area (Tana River County) where the paralegals were working and the local government leaders were quick to invite some of the paralegals to share their experiences and opinion on how the regulations to the law should be articulated.

Another example is, a local government in one of the areas (Turkana County) were the paralegals were working in, invited them to a public consulataion to draft the County Development Plans.

It is however necessary to push this further so not only paralegals, but community members too start to get involved in such engagements.

David

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This is an interesting aspect as the point of entry for the community participation is not clear. Most of the time when we refer to community participation we refer to the vocal opinion leaders within the community and leave out the silent ones who are the majority.

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Dear Ye Yinth, I am also a Myanmar, and work at the Land-related Dept, then an author about land issues. I think that your Organization already well knew about 2018 amending law of VFV law. How do you think about Section 26 of 2018 Amending VFV Law, how to approach to protect the land of costomary and/or communal rights? Best, San Lwin Oo. 11.Dec. 2018.

Dear Saya @San_Lwin_Oo,

Thank you very much for raising the topic. Like many other organizations, we are also paying attention to the issue of VFV land and the law recently amended. Though we understand the attention of issues related to rule of law behind this, we have raised concern about the punishment sections overall by highlighting the challenges and possible impacts on the ordinary and customary land users.

As you know, land disputes related VFV land are still ongoing between the local people and the companies, in several areas of the country. Some case can even be under the category of land grab. The new amendment of the law and actions to the enforcement of the law has raised up the concerns by the organizations working to solve the issues of land conflicts, civil society representatives and the officials responsible to enforce it.

We have also mentioned our concerns together with many other organizations. You may have read the points in the letter here;

Regarding the protection of customary and/or communal rights, the law mentioned in it section 30a as follows;

30-a. Management of the following types of land shall not be governed by this law; - (a) The lands for which the right to use as hillside cultivation (Taungya land) is granted under the existing law and rules, (b) Customary lands designated under a traditional culture of the local ethnic people. © The lands currently used for religious, social, education, health and transportation purposes of the public and ethnic people.

However, we still need to discuss more on identification, the process of identification, recognition, and protection. Enforcement of the VFV law, while we do not clearly understand this, will be welcoming conflicts on the ground.

Moreover, a clear understanding on how to solve the issue of the definition and boundary conflicts is also needed. We may have to reflect different sanerios in regions and states. This will have huge impacts on the process of development, national reconciliation, peace, and stability.

I have noticed some discussions between the parliament representatives, CSO representatives, and officials from concern departments.I think this kind of discussion, information sharing, creating space for providing opinions and attention to inclusiveness are very important to be happened more widely before taking the next careful step.

Recently, we have published a short simple document, about the VFV law, concerns related to it and the illustrated application process using the law, to help the community in case individuals/communities are interested to follow it. We are sharing the document as much as we can, to help people make their own decisions.

At the same time, community-based paralegals are also now working on documentation of real ground case experiences of using the VFV law in practice. With partner organizations of us, we @timmillar, @nwenisoe, @sungchinpar, @khinhtetwai, @ayeayeaung, @nawhlathazin are also in the initiative to prepare a short policy brief based on the case experiences on this matter.

I hope it will help.

With best wishes and respect.

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