Human Rights Law Now Mandatory for Myanmar Law, Int’l Relations Students

By Zue Zue 17 October 2019

YANGON—Human rights law is now a compulsory subject for law and international relations students at universities across Myanmar.

The new mandatory curriculum came out of a 2016 agreement between the governments of Denmark and Myanmar to teach human rights at universities in Myanmar, Professor Daw Thi Thi Lwin of Yangon Eastern District University’s Law Department told The Irrawaddy.

As part of the agreement, Yangon Eastern District University and Dagon University signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) the following year on human rights and the rule of law with the Embassy of Denmark in Myanmar.

The MOU focuses on four areas: teaching human rights in the universities’ law departments, conducting research on human rights, creating human rights centers at the universities and establishing legal information centers.

Daw Thi Thi Lwin said human rights subjects were added as elective courses to the curriculum for third-year law students at both universities in 2012.

“But there were only a few resource people [for human rights] at universities then,” she said. “It had barely been taught. It is an unfamiliar subject so no students took the human rights courses.”

Only in June 2016 after the partnership—known as the Country Program Agreement (2016-2020)—was launched did students at the two universities start to sign up for the human rights courses.

“The law education board [of Myanmar] decided that human rights will be taught as a compulsory subject as of the second semester of the 2018-19 academic year for third-year law students at all universities across the country. The Ministry [of Education] also endorsed it,” said Daw Thi Thi Lwin.

Human rights subject courses are also now compulsory for distance learner third-year law students as well as for fourth-year international relations students.

Since 2016, 34 research papers on human rights and the rule of law have been published as a result of the MOU, said Daw Thi Thi Lwin.

Daw Hla Hla Yi, a lawyer at Legal Clinic Myanmar, welcomed the change as well.

“We never heard of [human rights law courses] when we attended law school. I view it as the first step toward the emergence of fair laws in Myanmar,” she said.

She also voiced hope that the change will contribute to the justice system and promote human rights in Myanmar.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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