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 A flawed and outdated legal framework, poor policy coherence, weak governance, rule of law deficiencies, and an exploitative and predatory approach to controlling natural resources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.