Companies must consider human rights concerns amid rush to invest in Myanmar, says Lisa Misol of Human Rights Watch

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Article
15 July 2013

[PDF] Myanmar’s Complex Transformation: Prospects and Challenges [UK]

Author: H.E. Thein Sein (President of the Union of Myanmar)

[Transcript of speech delivered at Chatham House]…Media censorship and restrictions on the Internet have ended. New laws protect the freedom of association and expression…I guarantee you that by the end of this year there will be no prisoners in conscience in Myanmar…We must free our markets and open the doors to foreign trade and investment, but in a way that ensures that poverty is reduced and that the ordinary farmer and worker clearly benefit…We wish to avoid the so-called ‘resource curse’ and make sure that revenue from our natural wealth is used to reduce poverty not fuel corruption…[W]e will develop clear, fair and open land policies…[What] we need most is responsible trade and investment, to grow our economy, create jobs, and lift our people from poverty…I promise you that we will take a zero-tolerance approach to any renewed violence and against those who fuel ethnic hatred.

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Article
13 July 2013

Burma: UK’s Cameron Should Press President on Rights

Author: Human Rights Watch

Britain’s Prime Minster David Cameron should urge visiting Burmese President Thein Sein to...ensure that new legislation meets international human rights standards, Human Rights Watch said...Doing business in Burma involves various human rights risks. These include the lack of rule of law and an independent judiciary, major tensions over the acquisition and use of land, and disregard of community concerns in government-approved projects. The military’s extensive involvement in the economy, use of forced labor, and abusive security practices in business operations heightens concerns…Thein Sein’s government continues to use repressive laws to undermine peaceful protests against projects that impact livelihoods and land…“Failure to press the Burmese government to meet its reform commitments will send precisely the wrong message to Thein Sein”…[Human Rights Watch] said.

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Article
10 July 2013

Myanmar: Invest at your own risk

Author: Lisa Misol, senior researcher, business & human rights with Human Rights Watch, Global Public Square blog on CNN

Major global brands have been enticed by Myanmar’s largely untapped potential...Myanmar’s government awarded...licenses...to telecommunications firms from Norway and Qatar... [O]pportunities abound – but so do pitfalls. The reforms introduced since the quasi-civilian government...took over from Myanmar’s military junta in 2010 remain far from complete, and key concerns for companies include the high risks associated with human rights abuses, security and corruption. One potential flashpoint is the absence of community consultation and consent for projects... Myanmar authorities have increasingly used intimidation and criminal prosecutions to clamp down on peaceful protests against international projects... Security issues present another major business risk...All this means that...companies must take care... The...practice of corporate “human rights due diligence”...is an important starting point... [refers to Carlsberg, General Electric, Coca-Cola, Heineken]

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