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Southeast Asian Legal Research Guide: The Constitution

Commentary on the Constitution

Oxford Constitutions of the World (UniMelb staff & student access)  - contains an English version of the three versions of Myanmar Constitution accompanied by an introductory note, commentary and a selected bibliography.

World Constitutions Illustrated on HeinOnline (UniMelb staff & student access) contains the three versions of Myanmar Constitution- 1947, 1974 and 2008. It also contains scholarly articles and commentaries on the constitution and Bibliography of Select Constitutional Works

Melissa Crouch and Tom Ginsburg, 'Between endurance and change in South-East Asia: the military and constitutional reform in Myanmar and Thailand' (2016) International IDEA’s Annual Review of Constitution-Building Processes (open access)

Part III: 'Constitutionalism' in Melissa Crouch and Tim Lindsay, Law, Society and Transition in Myanmar (Hart, 2014) e-book (UniMelb staff & student access). This Part contains the following chapters:

  • What's So Bad about Burma's 2008 Constitution? A Guide for the Perplexed  
  • The Common Law and Constitutional Writs: Prospects for Accountability in Myanmar  
  • Constitution-making in Myanmar: Insights from World Experience 

See also:

Finding the Constitution in English

The current constitution is the 2008 Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The three post-colonial Constitutions - 1947, 1974 and 2008 - are available online in English on the Myanmar Law Library website (open access) 

The Comparative Constitutions Project (open access) has a terrific tool for comparing the three versions of the Constitution Article by Article.

Constitutional Cases

The Constitutional Tribunal of the Union of Myanmar was established in 2011 by the Constitutional Tribunal of the Union Law (Law No 21/2010). It is housed in the same building as the Supreme Court. Its role is to adjudicate constitutional issues and disputes, review the constitutionality of legislation and executive action, and it acts as the final authority on matters of constitutional interpretation (s 12 of Law No 21/2010). Neither individuals not civil society organisations can bring cases to the Tribunal; it is confined to hearing matters brought by the Government (the President or Chief Minister), Legislature (the Speaker of either House) and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (ss 13-17 of Law No 21/2010). The Supreme Court retains jurisdiction to hear constitutional rights-based claims by individuals, but may not interpret the Constitution.

The Submissions and Decisions database on the website of the Tribunal contains an incomplete set of the decisions of the Tribunal. To date it has heard very few cases. Some decisions are in English only, others in Burmese only.

For an excellent explanation and critique of the Tribunal, see Melissa Crouch, 'Dictators, Democrats, and Constitutional Dialogue: Myanmar's Constitutional Tribunal' (2018) 16(2) International Journal of Constitutional Law (2018). Available on open access on SSRN. In this article, the author reflects on the implications of the role of the Tribunal as a forum for constitutional dialogue between and among military dictators and democratically elected representatives.