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Myanmar: Investing in the Future of Democracy and Human Rights

The results of Sunday’s historic elections in Myanmar...may convince the European Union to lift sanctions...The challenges...[investors] will face in making sure their investments are...based on internationally accepted principles, are many...The “patrons”...are mainly companies from China, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, and some from India. Their interests range from oil and gas to shipping as well as some manufacturing, and other resource-based industries...[F]ertile land [is] being grabbed from farmers for commercial purposes. Workers have begun to strike in the few plants operating...Concern over forcing people to work against their will persists. Too little is known about the antecedents of business partners...The starting point for all investors should be the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights...[C]ompanies need to ensure that the human rights due diligence steps...inform their decisions including on securing the free, prior informed consent of those who are using the land...recruiting workers without discrimination and recognizing their right to associate freely and bargain collectively...ensuring that investors do not perpetuate the past by allying with business groups that may have had an unsavory record and recognizing the importance of paying taxes... [refers to Heineken, Triumph, Unocal, Total]