Book launch: The Constitution of Myanmar

The Constitution of Myanmar book cover

This seminar will launch the book The Constitution of Myanmar. Nick Cheesman and Björn Dressel from ANU will offer comments on the book followed by comments from the author, Melissa Crouch from the University of New South Wales.

This timely and accessible book is the first to provide a thorough analysis of the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar in its historical, political and social context. The book offers an in-depth exploration of the key elements of the 2008 Constitution in theory and practice. The book identifies and articulates the principles of the Constitution through an analysis of legal and political processes since the 1990s. It highlights critical constitutional contestations that have taken place over fundamental ideas such as democracy, federalism, executive-legislative relations, judicial independence and the role of the Tatmadaw (armed forces). This book suggests that the 2008 Constitution facilitates the co-existence of civilian and military authorities in the form of a military-state. Distinct from direct military rule, the military-state promotes the leadership role of the military in governance, based on a set of ideological commitments and organised in the form of a highly centralised Union. The constitutional vision offered by the 2008 Constitution and its associated institutions have been the subject of fierce contestation. Not least is the debate over the militarisation of the state through direct and indirect means. Central to the future of the Constitution and the military-state in Myanmar is the role of the Tatmadaw, and the extent to which the country may shift from a highly centralised Union to a federal or decentralised system of governance.

Dr Melissa Crouch is Associate Professor in the Law School of the University of New South Wales, Sydney.She teaches and researches on law and religion, law and governance and constitutional law, with a specialization in Southeast Asia. She has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships, including the Endeavour Australia Research Fellowship; the International Institute for Asian Studies; the University of Indonesia Visiting Fellowship; and the University of Melbourne Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellowship. She has also been a visiting scholar at the State Islamic University (Jakarta), Gajah Mada University (UGM), the American Bar Foundation, and Northwestern Law School. She is Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery Grant (2018-2021) for a project on ‘Constitutional Change in Authoritarian Regimes’. Her publications include The Constitution of Myanmar (forthcoming 2019); Law and Religion in Indonesia (2014); The Politics of Court Reform (CUP 2019), Islam and the State in Myanmar (OUP 2016); and The Business of Transition (CUP 2017). She is also Myanmar Academic Lead of the UNSW Institute for Global Development

Event details



Nick Cheesman, and Björn Dressel, ANU; Melissa Crouch, University of New South Wale.

Date & time

Start date: Friday 15 March 2019

End date: Friday 15 March 2019



Seminar Rooms A & B, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU


ANU Myanmar Research Centre

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