News / Asia

Opening for Investment, Burma Faces Human Rights Challenges

STATE DEPARTMENT — More foreign firms are moving into Burma with the easing of U.S. and European sanctions, following recent political reforms.  But the Obama administration says it expects U.S. investors to lead by example in improving labor conditions, amid concerns that a more open Burma could worsen human trafficking.
 
U.S. and European sanctions hurt Burma's banking sector, making it harder for foreign firms to invest.
 
But with those sanctions eased, Google, Coca-Cola and General Motors are leading the charge into Burma.  Meeting with corporate leaders before the largest-ever U.S. trade mission to the country, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she expects them to be agents of positive change by doing business responsibly.
 
Clinton has told Burmese President Thein Sein that Washington will respond to reforms on an action-for-action basis, as his government legalizes trade unions, eases media censorship, and frees political prisoners.
 
But with a 30 percent poverty rate, UNICEF's Burma representative Ramesh Shrestha says one of the biggest risks in Burma is child exploitation. "If government opens up as it said, democratically, then obviously it opens up for everything.  That would mean the existing bad control of the situation might be loosened up.  That would mean people would do what they want to do.  This could be legal or illegal, all these things could happen," he said. 
 
Jesse Eaves, the senior policy advisor for child protection at the aid group World Vision, says the important thing is that positive steps are being made. "We have seen countries like Burma starting to really take a look at what is happening in its own borders, what is happening to their citizens and trying to take the proper response to it," he said. 
 
Eaves says World Vision is raising awareness about human trafficking and child exploitation in Burma by working with survivors to speak out.  "It is amazing the change that you can see just by addressing the issue, by bringing it out in the open and shining a light on it," he said. "I think the biggest problem we see is that most people do not know what it is that they are looking at.  They may just think, 'This is normal.  This is what we have always done.'"
 
Lex Rieffel, an economic expert at the Brookings Institution, says the speed of Burma's economic reform could challenge welfare and development programs. "We have seen a pattern where countries that invest heavily in natural resources tend to under invest in human resources.  Experience tells us that it is the investment in human resources that pays off in the long term," he said. 
 
But Britain's investment chief Nick Baird says foreign firms can make a big impact in Burma. "It is not just economic, but working together in an open and transparent and responsible business way, will actually help the stability of this country," he said. 
 
The message is echoed by the new U.S. ambassador to Burma, Derek Mitchell, who says outside investment can move the country toward greater transparency and accountability. 

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: inam from: uae
August 05, 2012 6:46 AM
Why is Killing in Burma NOOOO MEDIA THERE
WHy

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More