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Title: Negotiation Process of Karen Communities on Land Legitimacy and Customary Land Management in Dual Administration Zone: Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar
Other Titles: กระบวนการต่อรองของชุมชนกะเหรี่ยงต่อความชอบธรรมในที่ดินและการจัดการที่ดินแบบจารีตในเขตการบริหารคู่ขนานทานินตายี ประเทศเมียนมา
Authors: May Saung Oo
Authors: Lect. Dr. Siya Uthai
Asst. Prof. Dr. Chusak Wittayapak
May Saung Oo
Issue Date: Apr-2020
Publisher: เชียงใหม่ : บัณฑิตวิทยาลัย มหาวิทยาลัยเชียงใหม่
Abstract: The Ridge to Reef (R2R) negotiation process is a struggle for international conservation in the resource-rich area of Tanintharyi, Myanmar. It has become a hot issue involving powerful and powerless actors. This study focuses on the opposition to the R2R project mounted by local communities and civil societies. This case is of particular interest compared to other power struggles, as it pits civil society against international organizations rather than the state. I argue that the negotiations by local Karen communities are motivated by the desire to maintain their existing cultural identities in terms of customs, beliefs and heritage and to claim self-determination using their ancestral lands. This study employs the concepts of “Negotiation Process,” “Legitimacy,” and “Customary Land Management System.” Empirical data includes documentation, semi-structured interviews and observation. The study looked at six villages in Lenya-Bokepyin and Manoro areas of the southern Tanintharyi Region. It engaged with numerous community actors and recorded their reactions and various means of resisting the R2R negotiation process. The communities constructed their negotiating power by collecting evidence emphasizing their ability for sustainable use of the land and resources. Throughout the process, there obtained a mix of distributive and integrative negotiations. Interestingly, third-party engagement occurred in the negotiation process; however, it was used as a mediation process. The Nationwide Ceasefire Accord was an external factor which cut across the process. Each stakeholder has engaged in the negotiation process through a written statement, email conversation, community mobilization activity, workshops, training and meetings. The multi-level stakeholder engagement occurred without uprisings or internal conflicts and collective dilemmas. This lack of conflict is one of the significant findings of this study, and it speaks to an underlying sense of belonging to communities and localities. The local Karen communities resisted international conservation in large part by referencing the “Kaw.” The “Kaw” is the Karen people’s accumulated knowledge gained over generations and embedded in local Karen customs. The Karen actors, including local communities, CBOs, CSOs and KNU, mobilized local institutions and networks, as well as social and cultural capital to resist the conservation initiative. Their advocacy and lobbying to the authorities of the Myanmar government happened at the local, township, regional and union level. The Karen’s legitimation actions were launched with active public participation. Active consent within the community created a dynamic tightly linked to voluntariness, rather than fear. This study shows that local power and authority is sufficiently robust to engage in a negotiation process with the state and other powerful actors. Also, it confirms that by cultivating public support, a bottom-up approach is likely to avert conflict. Accordingly, Myanmar’s struggle for a democratic federal union needs to adhere to the bottom-up approach for sustainable peace.
Appears in Collections:SOC: Theses

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