Above the Law in Burma

My article on Burma’s constitution, Above the Law, was just published in The Irrawaddy. I published it under a nom de guerre (that sounds so much better than pseudonym) because I do hope to return to Burma at some point. However, I doubt Burmese military intelligence reads Rule by Hukum, so I think it’s alright to cross-post here.

The article was actually intended to be a brief synthesis of the longer law review article I am currently working on. I hope to finish a draft by February 2010, when I will present the paper at the Inaugural East Asian Law and Society Conference in Hong Kong.
Like this brief op-ed, my longer* article will apply political science theories about courts and constitutions to the 2008 Burmese constitution. One interesting possibility that I discuss in both articles is that the National Convention adopted a Constitutional Tribunal to serve as an additional veto player, blocking any state or hluttaw initiatives that might threaten the military’s interests. This could become particularly important because the new constitution adopts a quasi-federal structure, so it will be more difficult for the military to manage political elites than it has been in the strictly hierarchical army.

Thanks to Htet Aung and the rest of the Irrawaddy editorial team for working with me on the article. I also love Harn Lay’s graphic for the piece. Make sure to check it out here.

* The operative word being longer. I already have 10 pages written about Burmese legal history, but that only brings it up to independence in 1947.

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