The Nation: Article on the Draft Investment Law Process

The Nation has published a round up of the investment law reform process. It acknowledges that ‘Not every reform is without critics,’ and quotes the ICJ in the following section:

As the government consolidated its two investment laws, the International Commission of Jurists last month issued a statement, urging Myanmar to involve all stakeholders. As the resource-rich country would attract more investment in the area, key stakeholders should include affected communities and civil society, to promote a law that balances investors’ needs with human rights.

“This is a critical moment for the economic development of Myanmar. The laws it implements now will shape investment, economic development and, in turn, human rights for the foreseeable future,” said Daniel Aguirre, the international legal advisor to the ICJ.

“It is imperative that drafting is not rushed and that laws take into account international human rights laws and standards.”

ICJ has been working directly with DICA as well as with Myanmar civil society on investment laws and their potential impact on human rights in Myanmar.

While praising DICA’s willingness to consult civil society, including international non-governmental organisations, ICJ remains concerned that the draft law establishes significant rights for investors without protecting the rights of those affected by business activity. The draft would require investors to follow national laws without acknowledging that the existing national legal framework does not adequately protect human rights or provide remedies for those whose rights have been violated, it said.

Furthermore, the draft law does not establish or protect Myanmar’s ‘right to regulate’ to protect human rights or other social or environmental needs. Investment law should indicate Myanmar’s obligation to enact necessary regulations for the protection of human rights, including economic and social rights such as the right to health, in the future in order to avoid legal disputes when adopting these regulations.

“The draft law’s proposed legal framework would provide all investors the right to be consulted and challenge any new national law or regulation that may impact their profits,” said Aguirre. “This framework would allow businesses to challenge government policies aimed at addressing legitimate needs within the country, and it could create a regulatory chilling effect in which Myanmar’s government would find itself in the troubling position of evaluating whether the passage of new social policies would lead to costly lawsuits from investors.”

“The draft Law as currently formulated runs the risk of hindering progressive regulation to protect human rights in Myanmar,” said Aguirre.

For the full article see:

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