Groups submit comments to US Govt. calling for renewal & strengthening of Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma

U.S. investors who invest at least $500,000 in Burma are required to submit a report to the US Government about their human rights and land use policies, their contact with the Burmese military and their payments to the Government of Burma. The US Government issued an announcement that it is seeking comment about the Reporting Requirements. Below are some of the NGO submissions, all urging the US Government to renew and strengthen these requirements.

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27 January 2016

Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma

[comments on proposed renewal of and revisions to US Government's Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma, including by:

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Article
26 January 2016

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre submission

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

… The concerns and rationale behind the Reporting Requirements remain relevant. We routinely publish reports from civil society and local communities in Burma of human rights abuses, including: unjust or uncompensated land confiscation; labour abuses such as poverty wages, unpaid overtime, child labour and denial of freedom of association; arbitrary arrests and detentions for the peaceful expressions of dissent, and the use of repressive laws to prosecute and harass communities and groups protesting against projects that impact on livelihood, land and the environment; and ongoing conflict and human rights abuses in ethnic areas exacerbated by corporate activities. The military, which continues to control large segments of the economy, including sectors associated with severe human and environmental abuses, like jade mining, remains outside of democratic accountability structures under the new constitution. The outcome of the recent elections will also likely lead to an increase in foreign investment, especially in sectors that have long been associated with human rights abuse such as extractives and infrastructure. Removing the Reporting Requirements would weaken the push for transparency and responsible investment at a time when it is still very much needed. A return to secretive foreign investment in an economy that is still controlled by cronies and military owned companies, where ownership and control remains opaque, risks exacerbating conflict, land and labour rights disputes, corruption, and other serious human rights threats…

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Article
26 January 2016

Comment of EarthRights International on the Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma

Author: EarthRights International

EarthRights International (ERI) respectfully submits this comment to the U.S. Department of State…as part of the review process for the U.S. Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma…We urge the State Department to renew and strengthen the Reporting Requirements to ensure new U.S. investment activity in Burma is conducted responsibly and transparently and promotes, rather than undermines, the democratic reform process…Past patterns and ongoing conflict and human rights abuses associated with foreign investment projects and other business activities present ample reason to remain concerned that new investment could undermine the democratic reform process. The Reporting Requirements are an important tool through which the U.S. government can promote transparency and accountability, support political reform, and obtain information to monitor and assess whether new U.S. investment activity in Burma is furthering U.S. foreign policy goals as intended.

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Article
25 January 2016

NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights comments on the extension of the Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma

Author: Mike Posner and Sarah Labowitz, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights

We are writing to support the extension of the Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma (“Reporting Requirements”) in response to the Notice of Proposed Information Collection of November 25, 2015. In our view, the continuation of this reporting requirement is necessary for the proper functioning of the State Department and other federal agencies in their advocacy for a fair, rules-based global economic order...

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Article
25 January 2016

[Comments submitted to US Government on proposed renewal of Burma reporting requirements]

[Comments on proposed renewal of and revisions to US Government's Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma, including by:

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Article
25 January 2016

Amnesty International submission

Author: Amnesty International

…The US Government must continue to enforce the “Reporting Requirements for Responsible Investment in Burma” (Reporting Requirements), as well as take steps to strengthen them. It is clear that poverty continues to be a problem in Myanmar and that investment has the potential to bring social and economic benefits to the people living there…

Recommendations to the US Government

  • Continue to collect data from US companies in line with the Reporting Requirements.
  • Undertake diplomatic efforts to encourage other western states to implement similar measures.
  • Strengthen the Reporting Requirements to require companies seeking to enter Myanmar to disclose publicly both their human rights due diligence policies and their actual practices.
  • Eliminate the $500,000 threshold for reporting investment in Myanmar.
  • Impose meaningful sanctions if businesses fail to carry out such requirements. 

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Article
25 January 2016

Institute for Human Rights and Business submission

Author: Institute for Human Rights and Business

…In summary, the value of the reports in promoting good governance and responsible business conduct in Myanmar therefore extends beyond the reporting company itself to assisting in improving due diligence and responsible business practice among other investors in Myanmar, including companies – both from the US and elsewhere – and thus contributes to leveling the playing field. The Reporting Requirements has served as an important and practical example for building the capacity of Myanmar government officials and civil society on responsible business conduct standards and importantly, what the application of those standards look like in the Myanmar situation. They have had a multiplier effect in sparking other initiatives on transparency about business practices among Myanmar businesses as well as businesses from a wide range of other countries. And finally, they have helped improve the knowledge of Myanmar society about the benefits of rejoining the international community, by highlighting the benefits that international investment can bring to the country when conducted in line with international standards…

[Includes “Recommendations for Changes in the Content of the Reporting Requirements”]

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Article
25 January 2016

International Commission of Jurists submission

Author: International Commission of Jurists

… We believe that future reporting must be strengthened to ensure that U.S. companies comply with the Reporting Requirements, conduct due diligence and disclose adequate information transparently about the impact of their business practices on human rights in Myanmar…

1. The need for more robust due diligence standards…

2. The need for human rights due diligence to include land rights and the environment…

3. The need for further information on “passive” investors…

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Article
25 January 2016

International Corporate Accountability Roundtable submission

Author: International Corporate Accountability Roundtable

...[It] is critical to renew the Reporting Requirements after their current term lapses on May 31, 2016. It is also essential that the renewal period be utilized as an opportunity to extend and strengthen the overall framework. This will ensure that the Reporting Requirements are effectively updated in light of the serious and ongoing human rights concerns that remain in Burma, as well as lessons learned during the first term of the Reporting Requirements…

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Article
25 January 2016

Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business submission

Author: Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business

…We believe the Reporting Requirements are still necessary. As the online submission to the consultation…from the NLD’s Economic Committee (U Min Khin) note, they are an important support to the ‘change’ agenda of the newly elected NLD government…

…Recommendations for Changes in the Content of the Reporting Requirements…

1. Expanding the Scope of Transactions Subject to the Reporting Requirements: Reporting on Significant Sales Activity and Customers…Including other types of business relationships…

2. Reporting Requirement 5, Human Rights, Worker Rights, Anti-Corruption, and Environmental Policies and Procedures: Include a “comply or explain” requirement…

3. Reporting Requirement 7, Property Acquisition: Revise Question 7a…

4. Reporting Requirement 10, Military Communications: Clarifying and limiting the scope of “meeting” to focus on more significant interactions with the military…

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