UMD 17/CPRI 19: Negotiation for Life

Karen Customary Lands in Tanintharyi, Myanmar

May Saung Oo has done valuable work with this research into the Karen community in
Tanintharyi Region, who are negotiating to preserve their customary communal
ownership of the lands where they have lived and farmed and fished for centuries,
where their livelihoods depend on their conservation of the region’s biodiversity.
The study examines two ongoing conflicts: with the Myanmar government who claim
that in the absence of formal titles Karen lands are “unoccupied”, and hence available
for commercial development; and with the government and international environmental
agencies, who believe against the evidence that preservation of Tanintharyi’s biodiversity
has to be taken out of experienced Karen hands and turned into a project run by
international consultants lacking familiarity with the area and its community.
Similar conflicts are bound to occur elsewhere in Myanmar and this study will provide
an invaluable source of information and analysis in such cases.

Publication Date: March 2021