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Rule of Law Centres and Justice Sector Coordinating Body Meeting

On February 22, MyJustice Team Leader Caitlin Reiger and Senior Justice Sector Advisor U Hang Za Thawn attended the first meeting of the “Rule of Law Centres and Justice Sector Coordinating Body” in Nay Pyi Taw. The Coordinating Body was established by Presidential Notification 14/2017 on 9 February 2017, and represents an important step forward by Myanmar’s government to strengthen the justice system.

Myanmar Union Attorney General U Tun Tun Oo chaired the first convening of the Coordinating Body. He confirmed that the mandate of the group is ensure effective coordination across Myanmar government agencies, international organizations, and civil society groups on rule of law and justice activities. The Coordinating Body will seek to address constraints in the sector, such as registration challenges for CSOs, and will help connect government efforts to needs on the ground. The Coordinating Body will also serve as a Sector Working Group, connecting to the Development Assistance Coordination Unit. At this first meeting, UNDP presented an overview of the Rule of Law Centres, and MyJustice presented its broader programme and support to the Yangon Justice Centre and Mawlamyaing Justice Centre.

The initial membership is drawn from seventeen representatives of the Union Parliament, judiciary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Myanmar Human Rights Commission, academia, the legal profession, and civil society. Meeting participants cited the coordination of the Myanmar government pilot courts, UNDP-supported Rule of Law Centres, and MyJustice-supported Justice Centres as a positive example of working together efficiently to improve justice sector outcomes. The establishment of the Coordination Body offers a concrete opportunity for reviewing current evidence about justice needs in Myanmar, conducting consultations on reform suggestions, and identifying a clear set of strategic priorities for improving justice services to the public. To do so, the Body will need to clarify its overall objectives and working methods, including effective communication with government agencies, civil society, and development partners.

The coordinating body is expected to convene again in mid-March to identify its next steps