Animals, both livestock and others (including pets) have long needed state-enacted legal protections for their welfare. In the next post in this series, Aye Mar Win looks at the corpus of laws and legal provisions that are aimed to protect them in Myanmar, and what more can be done for their welfare.
Natural resources are those that arise naturally, unaided by human activity, elements or characteristics of the natural world that are useful to people. The economic worth of some natural resources (say, timber) is easily ascertainable; others, like breathtaking scenery, have what is known as ‘non-market’ value. Living beings are included in the category of renewable resources alongside other resources like soil and water that are interconnected with and influenced by living beings. Renewable natural resources, like animals, have the ability to persist or perpetuate themselves when they are properly conserved.
Animal welfare is a complicated topic with significant ethical, political, economic, and scientific components. Various animal welfare rules have been enacted at the national and international levels to lessen the suffering of animals when they are sold live or when they are killed and sold for food or for other uses. Animals are also classified into various types —wild animals, domestic animals, stray or lost animals, pet or companion animals, service animals, trained animals and farm animals according to where they live (in the wild, in human homes, etc) and also according to the purpose for which they are bred.
Myanmar has demonstrated her commitment to the protection of animals by becoming a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1997, and by cooperating with several governmental and non-governmental organisations working for the protection of both domestic and wild animals. The Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE) presented certifications for actions to prevent animal-related diseases to different governments at the 82nd World Terrestrial Animal Health Code 2009 in 2014. Myanmar was presented with two certificates: one for African Horse Sickness, and another for Peste Des Petites Ruminants (Ovin rinderpest, commonly known as Goat Plague).
There are several laws enacted that are aimed at protection of animals in Myanmar: the Cattle Trespass Law (1985); the Animal Health and Livestock Development Law (2020); the Conservation of Biodiversity and Protected Area Law (2018); and by specific provisions in the Yangon City Municipal Law (2018), the Criminal Law (1861), the Farmland Law (2012), the Essential Supplies and Services Law (2012), the Environmental Conservation Law (2012), the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2008), and the Gambling Law (2019).
The protection of animals is, therefore, obviously included in the sustainable development of environmental dimensions under Myanmar’s Agenda 21 which aims to strengthen and promote systemic environmental management in the country. After adopting the National Environmental Policy (1994), there was a need to formulate a comprehensive national environmental law; therefore, the National Commission of Environmental Affairs (NCEA) drafted the Myanmar Environmental Conservation Law (2012). These, along with several environment-related policies at the municipal and national levels, contribute significantly to the protection of animals in Myanmar. In addition to national laws, the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary and Fisheries departments (under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation), the Forest Department (under the Ministry of Natural resources and Environmental Conservation) and various City Development Committees, between them, carry out a range of measures for the protection of both domestic and wild animals in Myanmar.
In order to promote the livestock sector with the development of related sectors, the government of Myanmar encourages forming new organisations and reorganising old ones. New organisations include the Myanmar Livestock Federation, the Myanmar Veterinary Council and the Academy for Livestock and Fishery Bank. The Myanmar Veterinary Association was reorganised and its activities are likely to contribute towards the development of the livestock sector.
The Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2008) has also promulgated a list of legislations in Schedules One to Three of the legislative powers for the relevant sectors within the union. The Cattle Trespass Law (1985) contains eight chapters and 37 sections that govern the establishment and control pounds, appointment, suspension or removal of pounds-keepers (including duties of pounds-keepers; impounding cattle; cattle damaging land, public roads, canals and embankments; fines for cattle impounded; procedures for cattle delivery or sale; complaints of illegal seizure or detention; penalties; and suits for compensation.
The illegal killing of animals is also addressed in Sections 428 and 429 of the Criminal Law. According to Section 428, whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless any animal or animals of the value of five thousand kyats or upwards shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 429 provides that whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering unless any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, bull, cow or ox, whatever may be the value thereof, or any other animal of the value of Ks. 5,000 (US$ 2.50 approx) or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.
Also, Section 33 of the Farm Land Law (2012) has enacted that pasture land and common village land are to remain unchanged. By addressing the subject of pasture land, it is clear that in this context, that the Farm Land Law can be said to be relating to animals in Myanmar.
The Animal Health and Development Law (2020) ensures the development of animal health and livestock production, veterinary services, manufacturing of quality animal feed, veterinary medicinal products, and animal equipment and animal products, research and awareness activities; production and distribution of nutritious, safe and quality animals and animal products for the sufficiency of domestic consumption and importation or exportation; prevention and surveillance of infectious and zoonotic diseases, and to take systematic response and control measures when they occur; promotion of cooperation among livestock production, processing, distribution, and marketing of animals and animal products; prevention of wilful cruelty to animals in accordance with law; and to provide financial and technical assistance, and good quality breeds for livestock production development and to ensure that livestock farming and livestock production are carried out in farms and on livestock farmland systematically and to promote market access.
Wildlife in Myanmar is mainly protected by the Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Area Law (2018) which provides protection for three listed categories of flora and fauna: the completely protected, normally protected and seasonally protected. Wild elephants are considered a completely protected species. It is the responsibility of the Forest Department, Myanmar Management Authority for CITES to ensure that the illegal international trade of this endangered species (and other endangered species, such as tigers) is prevented.
In Article 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (1992), any person who selects a pet animal for breeding shall be responsible for having regard to the anatomical, physiological and behaviour characteristics which are likely to put at risk the health and welfare of either the offspring or the female parent.
Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (1987) provides that pet animals shall not be sold to anybody under the age of 16 unless their parents or other adults acting in that capacity have given their express permission. The clause in this Article makes sure that a pet animal’s welfare is not harmed by being purchased by someone who is not old enough to take care of it properly.
These two Articles protect the physical and behavioural characteristics of all pet animals, their offspring and their female parent and are also species and breed specific. Pet animals are protected by Section 214 of the Yangon City Municipal Law of Myanmar, which states that the Yangon City Municipal Committee shall be undertake for the health of pet animals, the breeding of animals for human consumption, and the control and combate of communicable diseases in coordination with relevant government organisations or the specific matters within the city area.
To conclude, while there are several legal provisions for the protection of animals in Myanmar, some more commendable and recognised, there is as yet no provision for the purchase of pets based on age, and all animal laws need to include a ‘pet animal’ definition. Myanmar also requires a particular law to protect pets and animals from diseases transmission to humans.
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