Published in the International Journal of Drug Policy

By Ja Htoi Pan Maran and Mandy Sadan

This paper provides an overview of the activities of a large drug eradication movement called Pat Jasan in northern Myanmar. It will outline the different everyday justice systems available in the Myanmar borderlands to communities who are seeking to push forward a ‘solutions focused’ agenda to manage drug-related social problems. They have at their disposal a range of statutory, customary, and quasi-statutory-customary legal processes and instruments. However, a close analysis of everyday justice highlights the complex challenges posed in this contested borderland concerning how to address these issues through multiple, overlapping authorities. The paper shows how notions of legitimacy for drug related legal processes are constructed and the key role of brokers in this environment, who are vital in managing the dilemmas of governance and legal administration. It also touches upon emerging intergenerational and gendered tensions that serve to orientate ideological and political perspectives towards different outcomes as these systems are navigated. The complexity and sensitivity of the local everyday justice social field contrasts sharply with the debates conducted about Pat Jasan at a national and drugs policy reform level, in which these local actors are marginalized as disruptive and reactionary forces that work entirely outside the rule of law.

The paper invites consideration of how national and international drug policy actors engage with such social movements, as well as how concerns about illicit drug use and supply within local communities provides a helpful tool of analysis for understanding other critical issues for sustainable development and peacebuilding.