In the March 2016 issue: Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Sr Gen Min Aung Hlaing reiterates military's "leading role"; National League for Democracy (NLD) President Htin Kyaw sworn in, alongside hard-line military Vice President Myint Swe and NLD Vice President Henry Van Thio; appointment of Myint Swe sparks concern; New cabinet ministers approved and appointed to ministries; NLD proposes new powerful “state counsellor” position for Aung San Suu Kyi in new government; The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar’s second report highlights land rights, impunity for sexual violence, calls for release of political prisoners and public denouncement of discrimination; Amnesty International urges release of political prisoners in new report detailing “disturbing resurgence” in repression since 2014; US State Department report highlights “severe and disproportionate” rights restrictions against Rohingya, but says not genocide and much
Burma/Myanmar has a legacy of human rights violations linked to foreign investment and land acquisition for business activities, including large-scale development projects. A flawed and outdated legal framework, poor policy coherence, weak governance, rule of law deficiencies, and an exploitative and predatory approach to controlling natural resources have fuelled human rights violations and armed conflict.
Despite a new government, ongoing military control and/or influence over key ministries remains a barrier to land reform. The legal framework for land acquisition violates international standards. Institutionalized impunity and discrimination, a lack of transparency, and corrupt and unregulated industries present a significant risk to local residents, as well as local and foreign investors.
As foreign direct investment increases in Burma, it is crucial that the new National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government tackles land acquisition as a priority policy issue. The current legal and policy framework must be significantly reformed to ensure transparent investment practices and that human rights are respected by businesses operating in the country. Such measures should be conflict-sensitive, clearly address the impact of past abuses and provide concrete means to protect human rights.
This short factsheet summarizes business and human rights concerns in Burma/Myanmar, and highlights the need for reforms before appropriate human rights due diligence can be conducted.