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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Thomas Fuller of the New York Times has reported ongoing corruption in Myanmar’s judiciary. I am quoted in the article referring to the impact this has on investment in Myanmar as follows: “Foreign companies are afraid of the courts,” said Daniel Aguirre, an adviser in Myanmar for the International Commission of Jurists, a legal activist group. “To get economic activity going, you need to have a judicial system that functions.”

The full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/25/world/asia/myanmars-opening-up-hasnt-loosened-graft-in-courts.html?_r=0

Lawyers say bribes are required at nearly every step of the judicial process in Myanmar. Above, the High Court in Yangon. CreditTomas Munita for The New York Times Above, the High Court in Yangon. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

It is important for potential investors from the EU to recall  Article 3(3) of the Treaty on the European Union is the creation of an internal market and sustainable development of Europe “based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment.”

Anil Yilmaz (Lecturer in Law, University of Brighton) and Rachel Chambers (PhD candidate, University of Essex) have contributed analysis of EU Human Rights Reporting Standards on the EU Law Analysis Blog here: http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/new-eu-human-rights-reporting.html

As Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-Ocha visits Myanmar to revive the stalled Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the governments of Thailand and Myanmar should cooperate to establish a legal framework protecting the human rights of the area’s residents, said the ICJ.

The multi-billion dollar Dawei development, strategically located along the Thai-Myanmar peninsula, will be one of Southeast Asia’s largest industrial complexes, with a 250 sq km deep-sea port, petrochemical and heavy industry hub. After the project failed to attract sufficient investment, it was taken over directly by the Dawei SEZ Development Company, jointly owned by the governments of Thailand and Myanmar.

“This massive project has faced vocal opposition from some of the residents of the area, who allege that they have forcibly been deprived of their land, and that the development has damaged their farms, their livelihoods and their way of life,” said Daniel Aguirre, ICJ’s International Legal Adviser for Myanmar. “Any effort to revive the development now has the chance to avoid the mistakes of the past and to ensure that the rights of the residents of the area are protected.”

For full details see:

http://www.icj.org/myanmar-dawei-special-economic-zone-should-protect-rights-of-area-residents/

The press release was also picked up by local media at Mizzima News:

http://www.mizzima.com/business/dawei/item/13617-dawei-residents-speak-out-over-myanmar-thai-plans-for-sez

My Colleague, Vani Sathisan, has written an article published this week in the Myanmar Times on the human rights issues in Myanmar’s nascent Special Economic Zones (SEZs) that is relevant for investment in general.  In an attempt to shed its pariah image after decades of economic isolation, Myanmar has been opening up its door to billions of dollars of investment. Special Economic Zones have been a means to facilitate investors to inject capital into developing deep-sea ports and industrial estates. Talks to revive the Dawei SEZ begin again this week as the new Thai Prime Minister visits Myanmar on his first official overseas trip. The international community cannot ignore the significant negative repercussions for human rights and the environment amidst the gold rush. Villagers continue to be displaced without fair and adequate compensation for their property, farmers and fishermen lose their livelihoods, zero or few free prior consultations with the residents were held and access to judicial and non-judicial remedies is not guaranteed. Without proper environmental and land laws, as well as an effective judiciary to enforce these laws and provide appropriate judicial remedies, these development projects risk being counterproductive for sustainable development and the protection of human rights in Myanmar. A rights-compliant investment culture is critical to promote and preserve sustainable development for the country.

‘In Myanmar, there is still ambiguity about the roles of environmental impact assessments and environmental management plans. The Environmental Conservation Law enacted in 2012 requires significant refinements. Even though impact assessments are required for all major development projects under the new Foreign Investment Law, the precise environmental and social standards expected for investors have yet to be articulated. The procedures for impact assessments remain in draft form.’

http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/11845-rights-compliant-investment-needed-to-keep-sezs-fair-for-all.html

Measuring Business & Human Rights is a research project that aims to advance the capacity of business managers and corporate stakeholders to assess the extent to which companies meet their responsibility to respect human rights. Measuring Business & Human Rights is carrying out a study to clarify the possible intersection between such initiatives and highlight common issues, in particular through the analysis of the use of human rights indicators. The project seeks to apply human rights indicators to a variety of business activity. This week it looks at Private Security Companies operating in conflict zones or areas of weak governance, both of which are relevant to Myanmar.

For more information and analysis see the following article by Irene Pietropaoli at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businesshumanrights/2014/09/29/irene-pietropaoli-human-rights-indicators-private-security-companies/

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