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Related Site:

Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business

Related Publication:

Garment Sector Meeting Report

Related Publication:

Workshops Report

Related Submission:

Submission to the US government

Related Publication:

Wilton Park Conference Report

Related Publication:

Occasional Paper: Responsible Investment in Myanmar

Multi-year Project in Myanmar (Burma)

market scene in Myanmar

Investments in Myanmar should abide by local laws, uphold high standards and support democracy and human rights.

The Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) has embarked on a multi-year project to help ensure that existing and new investments in Myanmar are consistent with international human rights standards and best practices.

As a result of political and economic changes in the country, the European Union, the United States, and other industrialised countries have eased sanctions on Myanmar. Trade and investment delegations have visited the country in recent months to explore economic opportunities.

Myanmar’s President, Thein Sein, and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have both stressed in public remarks that investments in the country should abide by local laws, uphold high standards, respect labour rights and the environment, and support democracy and human rights.

In the past, insufficient clarity concerning expected business conduct in countries emerging from periods of sanctions has created uncertainty. The unanimous endorsement in 2011 of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights marks a significant step forward in providing necessary guidance for all stakeholders.

The UN framework affirms the duty of all States to protect peoples from rights abuses involving non-state actors, including business; the independent responsibility for all business enterprises to respect human rights; and the importance of ensuring access to effective remedies for those whose rights have been abused.

IHRB is working with the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the British Council, and other local and international partners to undertake activities in support of responsible investment in Myanmar consistent with the UN Guiding Principles and other relevant standards. These include:

  • Establishing a resource centre in Myanmar to provide information on corporate legal obligations and operational responsibilities; arranging access for businesses, governments, and civil society to top-level international expertise concerning human rights challenges and dilemmas; and a forum for stakeholders, including local and international business, government, and civil society organisations, to interact on matters of mutual interest.
  • Organising workshops in Myanmar focused on human rights due diligence with regard to business relationships, relations with communities and workers, and operations. Issues to be covered in these events will include land rights, labour rights, post-conflict business activities, and non-discrimination.
  • Providing briefing sessions for businesses in the ASEAN and South Asian region, and in countries where investors are located, highlighting the human rights challenges of operating in Myanmar and the role of the UN Guiding Principles and other international standards.
  • Publishing periodic policy briefs and occasional papers on the role of human rights and labour standards in addressing specific operational challenges in Myanmar.

IHRB has established a project team for Myanmar, which includes a special adviser on Myanmar and other colleagues in London, working with a project manager in Yangon. IHRB’s activities in Myanmar are supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the GE Foundation.

Related Links:

Responsible Investment in Myanmar’s Garment Sector. Summary of a IHRB's meeting with representatives from Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives to discuss the challenges and opportunities relating to Myanmar's garment sector. - 22 May 2013

The G8 Foreign Ministers have issued a joint statement following their meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013 in London. - UK Government Press Release, 11 April 2013

Submission by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) to the US State Department on US Reporting Requirements on Responsible Investment in Burma (Myanmar) - 04 October 2012

Burma, business and human rights - Podcast Interview with IHRB Executive Director John Morssion, Ethical Corporation, 17 July 2012

UK Trade and Investment Mission - UK Government Press Release, 09 July 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi signals change in Burma, but investors should proceed with caution - Commentary by IHRB Chair John Ruggie, Christian Science Monitor, 19 June 2012

Uneven road to doing business in Burma - Commentary by IHRB Director of Emerging Issues Salil Tripathi, The Guardian, 19 April 2012

Open Letter from Mary Robinson and John Ruggie to EU Foreign Ministers and EU High Representative - 19 April 2012

Myanmar: Investing in the Future of Democracy and Human Rights - Commentary by IHRB Director of Emerging Issues Salil Tripathi, 03 April 2012

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