Ensuring US Businesses Respect Human Rights in Myanmar (Burma)

Ensuring US Businesses Respect Human Rights in Myanmar (Burma)

In July 2012, Secretary of State Clinton announced the suspension of some long-standing economic sanctions on Myanmar (Burma). This decision enables U.S. businesses to invest and enter into new business arrangements in the country for the first time in 20 years. In this context, Amnesty International USA would like to emphasize the responsibility of business enterprises, wherever they operate, to respect human rights.

Amnesty International USA has drawn together guidance (click to download full PDF document), based on international standards and best practices, to highlight some of the key measures that businesses must take to comply with their responsibility to respect human rights. These international standards include the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the so-called "Ruggie Principles"), adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2011. This guidance is a starting place, not the final word, for businesses to comply with their responsibilities.

This short paper discusses the current situation in Myanmar, including findings of Amnesty researchers who visited Myanmar in May 2012; the first formal human rights field assessment conducted by Amnesty International inside the country in nearly a decade.

We have also attached some recommendations for how the U.S. government can better ensure corporate human rights accountability, above and beyond enforcing existing laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the relevant transparency rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The U.S. government should put in place and enforce an adequate regulatory framework to ensure U.S. business enterprises respect human rights wherever in the world they operate.

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