Forest law enforcement governance and trade in Myanmar

A conflict-sensitivity analysis

Summary:

The aim of this report is to provide a conflict-sensitivity analysis of forest governance in Myanmar to inform all stakeholders involved in the negotiations of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) in Myanmar.

Drawing on several case studies from across the country, this report seeks to provide an overview of how different types of conflict are related to forest governance, and how the positive and negative impacts of forest governance reforms in Myanmar might be considered to help inform a “conflict-sensitive” approach to the FLEGT VPA process in Myanmar.

Myanmar is in the middle of a complex, precarious, and lengthy process of trying to negotiate peace after six decades of internal armed conflict. At the same time, it is in transition from military rule to a more democratic form of governance. A key issue in the democratic transition and peace process are questions about the future governance of Myanmar’s valuable natural resources, including teak, rosewood, and other valuable timber species that are predominately found in conflict-affected areas of the country.

Within this context, any discussions about governance arrangements for natural resources, such as a VPA, risk unintentionally exacerbating deep-rooted grievances. Additionally, the tensions and conflict dynamics in the country will, by nature, influence the process of negotiating the VPA. Recognising this two-way interaction between conflict and the VPA process is at the crux of a conflict-sensitive approach.

This report proposes the development of a simple tool, referred to here as a “conflict risk analysis”, to help the stakeholders involved in the VPA process identify, monitor, and mitigate potential risks and opportunities of the process on key conflict and peace issues related to the VPA.