Blog: Rule of Law
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April 29, 2021
Beyond the Coup in Myanmar: “In Accordance with the Law” – How the Military Perverts Rule of Law to Oppress Civilians
Posted by Pwint Htun
(Editor’s Note: This article is part of a Just Security series on the Feb. 1, 2021 coup in Myanmar. The series brings together local and international voices on the coup and its broader context. The series is a collaboration between Just Security and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School. This post was published on the Just Security blog on April 28, 2021.)
“When protestors refuse to listen to our orders to disperse, we shoot at the protestors in accordance with the law.”
These are the chilling words of a Tatmadaw soldier. Unfortunately, they are not isolated ones, and they show how the idea of “law” has been perverted to justify both the Feb. 1, 2021 military coup and the deplorable violence that has followed. The word “law” (or “upaday” in Burmese) has long been a tenuous concept in Myanmar. After decades living under a military dictatorship, in which laws were used as tools of oppression and could change at the whim of those in power, the people of Myanmar have, understandably, little trust in law. The recent actions of Min Aung Hlaing and the current junta have only further affirmed this perception. The concept of law and the related idea of the rule of law have been warped and manipulated by soldiers and police officers, many of whom believe they are enforcing the “law” to uphold order when they crack down on protests against the coup.
At a recent military tribunal, the “law” was weaponized as a tool to instill fear by issuing unappealable death penalty sentences to 19 young protestors for one soldier’s death even though there were no eye witnesses to the alleged crime. In telling contrast, since early February, nearly 800 unarmed civilians have been killed at the hands of Tatmadaw. It is difficult to imagine a version of Myanmar further away from rule of law than this one. There instead needs to be an all-out effort to strengthen the true meaning of the rule of law in Myanmar by both returning the country to civilian rule and undertaking constitutional reforms to enshrine democratic rights instead of using the military-drafted 2008 Constitution as a tool protecting military might.Continue Reading…
October 30, 2014
October 31, 2014
“Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Rebuilding from Emergency to Development”
12:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Milstein East BC
Harvard Law School
Reception to Follow at 4:30 p.m. in Hark South Dining Room
Please join the Harvard Law and International Development Society for its half-day symposium, “Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Rebuilding from Emergency to Development.” The event will feature lunch and a keynote by Donald Kaberuka, President of African Development Bank; a panel on “Driving Economic Growth and Building Institutions After Conflict” and another on “Developing Stability and Security: Post-Conflict Rule of Law and Justice Reform.”
October 29, 2014
October 30, 2014
“The International Rule of Law Movement: A Crisis of Legitimacy and the Way Forward”
6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Please join us for a book talk by David Marshall, LLM ’02, editor of “The International Rule of Law Movement: A Crisis of Legitimacy and The Way Forward,” along with Michael Woolcock and Louis-Alexandre Berg, contributors to the volume. Marshall is a former Visiting Fellow with the Human Rights Program, and currently the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Focal Point for Rule of Law, Peacebuilding and South Sudan. Woolcock is Lead Social Development Specialist with the World Bank’s Development Research Group in Washington, D.C. and a Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School. Berg is a Research Fellow, International Security Program at the Belfer center for Science and International Affairs Harvard Kennedy School.
This event is being co-sponsored by the Harvard Law and International Development Society and the Harvard Human Rights Journal
November 14, 2012
November 15, 2012
“Rule of Law at Home and Abroad – A Critical Perspective”
12 – 2 pm
Promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels is at the heart of the United Nations’ mission. It is also a principle that is embedded throughout the Charter of the United Nations and most constitutions of national states. But there is much friction among Member States as to the definition of the rule of law, with assertions of hidden agendas. In addition, there is mounting skepticism among donors and international organizations regarding rule of law promotion.
Please join us for an inter-active discussion on these issues with panelists: Gerald L. Neuman, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard; Ivan Šimonovi?, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights; and Robert O. Varenik, Director of Programs, Open Society Justice Initiative.
The moderator will be David Marshall, LL.M ‘02, Visiting Fellow, Harvard Human Rights Program, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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