New Report: ‘Humane Commerce’ on the legal implications of large-scale developments in Burma

19 January 2016

HART published a report in March, ‘Large-Scale Developments in Burma: Uncovering Trends in Human Rights Abuse‘ focusing on the detrimental effects large-scale developments are having on locals in the border areas of Burma. This publication offers updates on issues dealt with in the March report, as well as exploring other matters of concern.

Commerce can be a tool for obtaining improvement if conducted in a proper manner. However, law and policy tools are also suggested where suitable. This publication adds value by providing strategic and nuanced suggestions for how governments, commercial actors and the new Burmese government ought to act in order to promote the increased well-being and rights protection of the locals.

Indications of lessening freedom and increasing discrimination, outlined in this publication should be taken into account by both private actors and foreign governments when considering economic involvement in, and trade policy regarding, Burma. Depending on its manner of execution, investment or non-imposition of sanctions can express acquiescence or even support of abuse and discrimination suffered at the hands of the Burmese army and government. Indeed, some foreign countries appear to approach Burma with more caution.  In April the EU extended its arms embargo against Burma until April 2016. A month later the US extended sanctions on Burma, referring to ongoing conflict and human rights abuses. The western commercial sphere also seems to be approaching Burma with caution. Companies like Holloman Corp have pulled out of the country, concerned with local safety standards and risks to the company’s reputation. Poor health and safety standards, working conditions, child labour, land grabs and human trafficking “present a host of additional risks and indirect costs to business – including brand damage, investor alienation, and potential lawsuits”.


This report aims to provide a comprehensive overview and increase understanding of:

  • How the human rights situation in Burma has developed since March 2015.
  • How the commercial sphere has responded to criticisms raised in relation to investment in Burma.
  • How the attitudes of foreign governments have been affected by the uncovering of human rights issues.

The report will also recommend suitable courses of action for the future Burmese government, and for foreign governments and companies considering investments in Burma.

The full report is available to download below.

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