Pre-conference event: Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar

Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar

What: Discussion on the complex resource politics and its implications for the peace process in Myanmar.

When: 15 August 2018, 10 am to 1:30 pm

Where: Think Corner (Tiedekulma), University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 4

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Myanmar is experiencing a complicated process of transition towards a civilian government, multi-party democratic elections, and peace negotiations. At the same time, the recent opening of the country has resulted in an accelerating rush for the rich natural resources, including a boom in extractive industrial and agribusiness projects. Most of these resources are located in the ethnic states and many of the grievances of the various ethnic communities are entangled with the questions of access to and control over resources. In this event researchers, NGO representatives and social movement activists discuss the ways that land and other resource rights should be addressed as a part of conflict resolution towards sustainable peace in Myanmar.

The recent political changes in Myanmar has also meant a rush of different international development organisations to the country. Recently Finland too has decided to focus its support in Southeast Asia to Myanmar. The event includes a panel discussion on the Finland’s future role in Myanmar with perspectives from civil society, ministry officials and private sector.

Tentative program:

10-12 Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar: Presentations, comments and discussion

Presentations include:

  • Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn University)
  • Khu Khu Ju (Land in Our Hands, Transnational Institute)
  • Kyi Phyo (Mekong Energy and Ecology Network)

Invited commentators include:

  • Johannes Vierula (Felm)
  • Petri Wanner (Ministry for Foreign Affairs)
  • Pasi Rajala (Finnfund)

12-13:30 Finland in Myanmar - the dynamics of aid and trade: Panel discussion

Panelists include:

  • Riikka Laatu (Finland’s Ambassador to Myanmar)
  • Esko Korkiakoski (Geological Survey of Finland, GTK)
  • Pasi Rajala (Finnfund)
  • Kristiina Rintakoski (Felm)
  • Juhani Klemetti (Siemenpuu),

The event is organised by Development Studies, University of Helsinki in collaboration with Felm and Siemenpuu Foundation. It is a side event of the 4th Annual World-Ecology Research Network Conference that takes place this year in Helsinki (15-18 August).

Contact persons:


Carl Middleton is Deputy Director for Research Affairs on the MA in International Development Studies (MAIDS) Program, and Director of the Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS), in the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. His research interests orientate around the politics and policy of the environment in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on environmental justice and the political ecology of water and energy. He has recently completed several resource politics-related research projects in Myanmar, including on the Salween River and in Hakha town, Chin State.

Khu Khu Ju is a land right activist and an activist researcher. In the past she has been the spokesperson for the Karen Human Rights Group. Currently she is dedicating most of her time to the work with Land in Our Hands network (LIOH). LIOH is an initiative of small-scale farmers and local farmer organizations that works for land tenure rights of small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, and particularly for women and ethnic communities. Khu Khu Ju has co-authored a report ‘Meaning of Land in Myanmar’ published by the Transnational Institute.

Kyi Phyo is an energy activist and Myanmar coordinator of the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network (MEE Net). In Myanmar several large-scale energy projects are being planned. Social movements have been successful in stopping some of the most destructive ones. Kyi Phyo has worked closely with grassroots activists and local residents in the Irrawaddy and Salween river basins building networks to confront destructive hydropower projects and to advocate for more just and sustainable ways of using the rivers. MEE Net also constructs alternative energy plans that have been influential, for example, in the Shan state.