Increased Awareness about the Draft Investment law, Consultation, the Environment and Human rights

Civil society in Myanmar is quickly becoming interested in the connection between the proposed draft investment law and the regulatory ability of states to protect, promote and fulfil human rights and protect the environment. The International Commission of Jurists has written a number of public statements, press releases and op-eds (see previous pieces on this blog for details) in order to raise awareness. We have also as held training workshops in Yangon and other regions to help lawyers and CSO workers to understand this connection and advocate for better public consultation during the drafting process. The ICJ’s workshop with DICA and the MIC also focussed on this issue among others. We have been pleased with the cooperation provided by DICA and note the extension of the deadline for submitting written comments.

As noted, civil society is increasingly engaged on this subject:

The Consultant for the International Finance Corporation, who is supporting DICA’s drafting process has also recognised the importance of consultation.

The government of Myanmar should be commended for implementing a consultation process with civil society. However, a meeting held on January 28th with two days notice and a consultation on March 20th with a week to prepare as well as an opportunity to submit comments does not constitute an adequate consultation. Discussions with local CSOs indicate a desire to study the law and the key human rights and environmental issues at stake. They also express a perception that their views will not be taken on board.  The government of Myanmar should do more to ensure that an informed, transparent and effective consultation takes place in which civil society has genuine participation. This is an important opportunity for Myanmar to demonstrate to civil society that the law making process has changed and that genuine public participation is now the norm.

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