In Burma, due to a multiplicity of laws and regulations relating to land, a wide-ranging set of government institutions are engaged in land administration and management. These institutions have been evolving since the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led administration began in April 2016. It will be necessary to understand these structures carefully in the early sequencing of land governance reforms, and to adapt to changes made by the administration. While the administrative structures at the state level and below are changing, in general the executive branch plays the leading role in land governance. The separate powers in Burma include the executive branch, which is made up of the President, two Vice Presidents, and the Cabinet; the legislative branch, which is made up of the Parliament or the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw; and, the judicial branch, which includes ordinary courts that culminate in a Supreme Court. A fourth important power in Burma is the Armed Forces or Tatmadaw, which has significant influence on land governance through the Ministry of Home Affairs which it controls and on lawmaking through its constitutional guarantee of 25% of the seats in Parliament.
In the executive branch, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), through its General Administration Department (GAD), play a paramount role at all levels in the case of non-reserved or public protected forest land areas. The Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Conservation (MONREC) assumes primary responsibility in areas classified as reserved forests, public protected forests, and protected areas, and some community forest designated areas of “unclassified” public forests. The executive branch offices of the State Counsellor and the President, each of whom provide directives to the ministries, also play a critical role in the government. In Parliament, the key committees of the Upper and Lower Houses play a central role in lawmaking, and in the judiciary the Office of the Union Attorney General has a role in legislative matters. Other union-level committees will also play a significant part in land governance, as will major urban development councils and quasi-governmental organs such as think tanks and party committees. Each of these offices is described in this land governance stakeholder analysis.
This analysis focuses more broadly on governance structures, delegated authority, and specific roles in relation to land governance in Burma. The report covers some structures, such as union-level branches of government and leadership offices of key ministries, broadly, and covers other structures, such as GAD, MoALI’s Department of Agricultural Land Management and Statistics (DoALMS), and committees governing the return and reallocation of land, in greater depth. While the structures and the related processes are complicated, and may entail a number of challenges for the government, it is likely that the new administration will use many of the existing land administration structures to the maximum extent feasible in order to roll out land governance reform programs early in its tenure, while studying shortcomings, monitoring these offices, and recommending structural revisions.