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Good Governance and the Extractive Industry in Burma

By Shwe Gas Movement  •  July 17, 2013

Gov & EI Final CoverBurma has been praised in recent years for the return to a civilian government and for the implementation of legislative reforms; international economic sanctions are being lifted and President Thein Sein became the first Burmese politician to enter the White House since 1966. However, this common picture does not reveal the depth and complexity of the current situation in Burma.

Now is a crucial time. Despite taking superficial steps towards reform, encounters with local populations show that little substantial change in terms of extensive environmental degradation, human rights, and government transparency is actually being witnessed on the ground. On the contrary, in the face of frequently discussed reform, issues such as civil war, ethnic cleansing, extensive human rights abuses, blatant disregard for rule of law, and other contentious topics continue to characterize life for significant proportions of the population. All the while, existing legislation continues to centralize government power, restrict basic human freedoms, and deter those inside from establishing adequate, equitable and legitimate social change. In this light, a sound understanding of Burma’s existing legal framework is vital to truly comprehend the state of affairs.

As the country begins to open up for the first time in more than 60 years, foreign investors and energy consumers worldwide are beginning to look progressively towards Burma and its rich natural resources. Aimed at policy makers, investors, corporations, various governments, intergovernmental groups and other stakeholders, this briefer seeks to highlight the necessity of a sound domestic legal framework in Burma through a critical analysis of the current limitations and implications thereof. Burma’s Constitution and legislation must not solely represent a centralized government, but simultaneously protect the people and environment of Burma. Pending the essential policy changes recommended in this briefer, natural resource development, foreign direct investment and other relevant activities, particularly in the extractive industry, should be put to a halt.

Any parties engaging in these activities choose to ignore serious environmental, social, and transparency related issues. They may, therefore, be accused of lacking the due diligence necessary to ensure good global governance in Burma.

Download the report in English or Burmese here.

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This post is in: Business and Human Rights, Environmental and Economic Justice, Spotlight

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