Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar, 15 August 2018

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
Confirm your participation:

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.


10-12 Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar: Presentations, comments and discussion
facilitator Mira Käkönen (University of Helsinki)

10:00     Opening words

10:05                  Glenn Hunt (University of Bern, Land Core Group), ‘Brief overview on the status of land and forest governance reform in Myanmar’
Commentator: Petri Wanner (Ministry for Foreign Affairs)

10:30                  Khu Khu Ju (Land in Our Hands, Transnational Institute), ‘Land grabbing and advocacy in ethnic states: focus on Karen lands’
Commentator: Thuzar Thant (Euro-Burma Office)

10:55                  Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn University), ‘Resource (hydro)politics in the Salween river basin: implications for the peace negotiations.’
Commentator: David Korpela (Ministry for Foreign Affairs)

11:20                  Kyi Phyo (Mekong Energy and Ecology Network), ‘Energy politics and advocacy: focus on Shan state’
Commentator: Harn Yawnghwe (Euro-Burma Office)

12-13:25 Finland in Myanmar – the dynamics of aid and trade: Panel discussion
facilitator Niko Humalisto (Felm)

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

13:25-13:30         Closing remarks: Hanna Matinpuro (Siemenpuu)


Short biographies of the invited foreign experts:

Glenn Hunt is a PhD candidate at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and has until recently spent the last 4 plus year acting as the policy adviser to the Myanmar CSO, Land Core Group (LCG). LCG is one of the key CSOs working on land and forest governance reform issues in Myanmar, working closely with various land reform actors in Myanmar, including both ethnic and Burman CSOs in different parts of the country. Glenn has been working on land governance and land / forest tenure issues for the last 14 years, previously in Laos, before starting in Myanmar in 2014.

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.

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.

Kyi Phyo is the 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.

Thuzar Thant is a Peace and Dialogue Program Manager of Euro-Burma Office based in Yangon, Myanmar. Since 2012 April, she has been working closely with various stakeholders engaged in the Myanmar peace process. She co-facilitated and coordinated the informal multi-stakeholders discussion series on the development framework for political dialogue. She served as a facilitator for the first Union Conference of Myanmar, the 21st Century Panglong Conference, and continues working with all stakeholders facilitating the 22 political parties that are participating in the Myanmar National Dialogue.

Harn Yawnghwe escaped from Burma to Thailand in 1963 after his father, Burma’s first President Sao Shwe Thaike, was arrested in a coup d’etat by General Ne Win. Harn’s family was granted political asylum and moved to Canada in 1969 where he earned a mining engineering degree and an MBA from McGill University. From 1988, Harn was an active member of Burma’s democracy movement. In 1990, Harn founded the Euro-Burma Office in 1997 in Brussels, to help the Burmese democracy movement prepare for a transition to democracy in Burma. In 2011, Harn was asked by the Govt of Myanmar and ethnic armed organizations to facilitate negotiations. After 48 years in exile, Harn returned to Myanmar to facilitate the peace process which resulted in 14 bilateral ceasefire agreements, and on 15 October 2015, a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement was signed.

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: Mira Käkönen (, Timo Kuronen (, Niko Humalisto (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *