Opening Remarks by Toily Kurbanov, UNDP Myanmar Country Director at the Workshop on Strengthening Capacity for Legislative Development in Myanmar

Nov 26, 2014

Your Excellency Dr Tun Shin, Deputy Union Attorney General, U Sit Aye and Presidential Legal Advisors, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is my great pleasure to speak to you at the opening of this important workshop on legislative development processes. UNDP's partnership with the Myanmar Government to support rule of law forms part of our broader assistance to democratic governance, which also includes parliamentary support and public administration reform. Ensuring that Myanmar has good, effective and accessible legislation is at the heart of the work of all branches of a democratic government. Today’s presence of representatives from so many ministries confirms this.

UNDP’s work globally is guided by the UN Secretary General’s working definition of the rule of law, which refers to, “laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards”. Here in Myanmar, the Framework for Economic and Social Reforms (FESR) sets out Rule of Law as a policy priority and commits to:

  •   Public consultation on legislation
  •   Working jointly with Parliament on the reform agenda
  •   Independent role of the judiciary

Your meeting for the next three days aims to support all of these priorities. Good laws have a clear policy goal that responds to public needs. I have been encouraged to see that the practice in Myanmar is increasingly involving consultation with affected groups not only after a draft law has been prepared, but at the formulation stage also, as we are seeing with the new Land Use Policy consultation. UNDP has been directly involved in the Law Drafting Group that is drafting a law to prevent Violence Against Women, as well as the core working group on TRIPS flexibilities to ensure access to affordable medicine in Myanmar are preserved in the Patents and Excise Acts. These groups have been conducting broad consultations with relevant ministries, civil society and parliamentarians. Their efforts should improve the content of the laws themselves, build public trust in government and parliamentary processes, and hopefully ensure greater enforceability and compliance once the laws have been adopted by Parliament and signed into law by the President.

As Dr Tun Shin has explained, the role of the UAGO has recently changed from being the government’s primary drafting house for almost a century, to a role of scrutinizing and vetting drafts produced by lead ministries. Once a law passes through Cabinet, the legislative function of parliament offers more opportunity for public debate and review by lawmakers. IN addition, over the life of the Parliament, we have seen a number of members bills put forward to parliament. The ambitious legislative reform agenda being pursued by both government and parliament highlights the need for efficient processes and common principles for what makes good law. The establishment by the President of a Coordinating Committee on Law Drafting (under the leadership of the Deputy Attorney General), to liaise between the UAGO, other ministries and the Parliament, has already been a positive step forward.

Your key resource person for this workshop is Mr Daniel Greenberg. After the success of his visit in 2013 which focused exclusively on UAGO officials, it is exciting to see UAGO now sharing these skills with a much broader group of colleagues. More than 20 ministries and the Parliament have come to this workshop. And then as the State/Regional Hluttaws begin to fulfill their constitutional functions, they are starting to enact local laws as well. More than ever, both at union and state/regional level, clear mechanisms for legislative/executive coordination are essential if laws are to be passed that are fair, necessary, easily understood and able to be implemented and relied upon to guide judicial decision making.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen: your workshop will be successful if it contributes to the reforms in Myanmar; develops robust legislative and regulatory frameworks; enhances their internal procedures and processes and achieves greater efficiency. Indeed, the third wave of administrative reforms will directly benefit from this initiative if stronger legislative drafting skills across government and in parliament will open a gateway for institutional re-structuring and for enhancing the procedural arrangements for improved and more efficient service delivery.

And, if this initiative were to open a new chapter in the ongoing collaboration across government and with parliament on legislative development, then the whole country will see the benefits for years to come.

In closing, I particularly thank the Attorney General and the UAGO Director General for this initiative, and our colleagues in the President’s office and in Parliament, for their kind cooperation.

I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of this workshop in due course.

Kyesu Tim ba de

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