Harvard Room 1, Centenary Building , Sandy Bay campusSummary:
An AIIA event presented by Nicholas Coppel.
Foreign governments are not interested in using military force to overturn the February 2021 coup in Myanmar. Instead, European and North American countries have imposed targeted sanctions on military conglomerates and senior military personnel to pressure them to honour the 2020 elections and return the country to civilian rule. Activists have also put pressure on foreign companies to review their Myanmar operations and exit any relationship they have with military controlled entities. How powerful are these measures and will they help bring about the restoration of democracy in Myanmar?
In this talk Nicholas Coppel, who was Australia's Ambassador to Myanmar, argues that very few foreign firms were in joint venture or had other commercial relations with military owned or controlled entities. The foreign companies that have left Myanmar mostly did so for security, commercial or reputational reasons. Leaving was not always easy or helpful to Myanmar's citizens and, in some instances, even benefitted the military. The overestimation of the extent and significance of the role of foreign companies in Myanmar has distracted policy makers and activists from considering policies that focus on the role the business community could play to strengthen human rights in Myanmar. He argues that policies need to recognise that change will only come from within Myanmar and attention should shift to support for responsible business practices in-country that support human rights and can assist agents and conditions for change in Myanmar.
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