Talk of the rule of law is today ubiquitous in Myanmar. But what does the rule of law mean? And what does it have to do with the country's nascent democratization? One way to conceptualize the rule of law is in terms of substantive legal equality. Burmese farmers and activists mobilizing through the lexicon of law to defend agricultural land against intrusive state projects engage with the rule of law in this sense. Another way is as a language of public and state security. Demands for the rule of law in response to violence in Myanmar's west correspond with this usage. Whereas in established democracies the rule of law as equality complements the rule of law as security, in a democratizing state the two are not necessarily compatible. The rule of law as an idea associated with substantive legal equality contributes to Myanmar's democratization, whereas when associated with public and state security it potentially undermines that democratization.
|Journal||South East Asia Research|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|