International standards on indigenous peoples contain a theoretical promise of spatial empowerment and traditional governance as part of autonomy which in practice is not absent of conflict and human rights concerns. Western “square” individual property rights conceptions are confronted with “circular” communal property relations. Legitimate interests of indigenous communities conflict with non-indigenous ones. The communal administration of the land is to be balanced with environmental protection. This article problematizes these dilemmas by analyzing the development of a communal property system within the Atlantic Coast Autonomy of Nicaragua. It identifies essentialist and constructivist ideas on indigenous identity and other policy assumptions behind it, the technical answers given to indigenous claims (de facto restitution, participatory demarcation and titling, conflict resolution mechanisms) and their consequences. It argues that a set of norms which is considered legitimate by all communities and which respects the rights of non-indigenous persons, including a fair dispute resolution mechanism, is needed for its success in protecting environmental and social stability and preventing violence. To achieve such objective in this or similar scenarios, an open minded approach to group identities and to available options (inclusive of others or exclusive to a community, collective or individual rights) in the design of special property regimes would be useful.
In 2015, the Myanmar Government, the Myanmar Tatmadaw (military) and eight ethnic armed organisations (eaos) signed the 2015 National Ceasefire Agreement (nca). In 2019, this agreement was signed by three more eaos, and there have been four annual conferences (Union Peace Panglong Conference 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). The ceasefire arrangements, which are present primarily in Southeast Myanmar, have failed to make significant progress in key areas such as the provision of access to civil documents and land to returning refugees, displaced persons and conflict-affected communities. Violence has escalated in the last two years. It is not an exaggeration to say that Myanmar is at a critical juncture of transition. This article examines how the peace process is being communicated amongst different civil society organisations, international organisations, donor organisations, and government representatives in an area directly affected by the peace process. The article details the experiences of these participants exchanged in workshop in Mon State in July 2018. The exchanges during the workshop reveal a practical obstacles faced by civil society organisations, especially, in their attempt to support returnees. Many reported frustration with the implementation gap between promoting a peace process and providing for local enabling conditions that support peace. Specific barriers faced by civil society organisations, and in turn the communities they are seeking to help were threefold: information and communication barriers concerning the peace process; women’s fear and reluctance to seek services due to personal safety concerns, and the persistence of traditional gender norms which affects access to information.