(formerly Burma)

International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Myanmar (formerly Burma)

According to Article 45 of Myanmar’s Constitution: 'the Union shall protect and conserve the natural environment'. Article 390(b) reads: 'every citizen has the duty to assist the Union in carrying out the following matters':

  • Preservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage
  • Environmental conservation
  • Striving for development of human resources
  • Protection and preservation of public property

    This represents the highest commitment of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to responsible environmental management.

  • Featured Legislation

    1991: The Freshwater Fisheries Law (State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No. 1/91) was enacted. The legislation outlines fishing in freshwater fisheries waters, which is defined as “waters, pond, course, river, stream and lake which is of permanent or temporary nature and in which fish live and thrive and which is situated within the inland boundary along the coast of Myanmar".

    1993: Amendments were made to the Freshwater Fisheries Law. The amendments mainly concern the prohibitions set forth in the basic Law as well as offences and related penalties established therein. In accordance with new sub-section (b) of Section 42, at the time of inspection of any fishery no person shall conceal or, without the permission of the Inspector, dispose of fish, fishing implements or other material.

    1998: Directive No. (9/98) on Myanmar Department of Fisheries System of Inspection (MDSFI) was signed. The Directive provides for the function and tasks of the Myanmar Department of Fisheries System of Inspection (MDFSI). Details are given on the application, documentation, process flow charts, the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures, and the assessment of compliance with the MDFSI for processed fish production.

    2011: The Seed Law (The State Peace and Development Council Law No. 1 / 2011) was brought into force. The objectives of this law aim to develop commercial flower/fruit and propagable and cultivable plant seed by cultivating and producing crops using pure seed for the development of the agricultural sector in Myanmar. The Law is regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation which will appoint the formation of the National Seed Committee, responsible for the implementation of seed policy – including research, seed quality inspection bodies, and packaging.

    2012: The Environmental Conservation Law was passed. The legislation informs the Myanmar National Environmental Policy; organizations, international organizations, non-government organizations and individuals in matters of environmental conservation.

    2013: Environmental Conservation Rules were created, prescribing environmental quality standards on emissions, effluents, solid waste, production procedures, processes and products.

    2014: The Environmental Management Plan (EMP) was approved by the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF) in order to refrain from, protect against, mitigate and monitor adverse impacts caused by the design, construction, implementation, operation, maintenance, termination, or closure of a project or business or activity; or after its closure, or by any other related cause. An EMP includes programs to manage and implement activities, and monitor changes to the environmental context.

    2016: Myanmar’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedures were drafted, identifying and assessing the environmental (and sometimes social) risks of proposed projects and recommended actions to improve project design and implementation.

    2016: Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) were introduced to measure the pollution of water by individual pollutants or groups of pollutants presenting a significant risk to the aquatic environment.

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • Myanmar’s military coup in February 2021 has escalated into forceful crackdowns on nationwide protests, suppressing independent journalism and free speech in the country. At least seven local media outlets have been stripped of their licenses, and enforced censorship of satellite television has now taken effect, limiting access to the country for international reporters. What is more, as of late July, 98 journalists had been arrested, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), a U.S.-based rights group. NGOs fear that the restrictions enacted by the military junta can undermine the country’s few existing environmental protections because the new regime funds their activities  through resource extraction. For example, since the beginning of the coup, rare-earth mining has increased exponentially in the Kachin region; illegal logging also increased in the Sagaing region, causing widespread environmental devastation in locations harboring some of the country’s most biodiverse intact forests. All campaigns dedicated to forest protection work have been halted via draconian restrictions on rights to peaceful assembly. Myanmar’s local environmental watchdogs have reported being unable to speak out on forest incursions due to personal security concerns. U.K.-based timber trade watchdog, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), has stated that all transparency in the timber sector has been destroyed by the coup, who relies on violence and brutality to quell environmental movements and criminalize environmental journalism in Myanmar, leading to widespread fear among investigators and members of the press.

    References and Further Reading


    Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF): U Than Aye (Director), Ph: 067 431325, 067 431318, Email: