Between June 2012 and March 2013 we partnered with the UK’s Institute for Human Rights and Business to gain support for a human rights based framework for businesses entering Myanmar.
The project set out to promote the practice of effective human rights due diligence for investment into Myanmar to ensure that such investment is sustainable in both economic and social terms.
This due diligence is based directly on the Guiding Principles endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011.
To understand the views of multiple stakeholders from business, government and civil society, our partner IHRB held high level seminars on business and human rights in Yangon, London and New York.
In parallel, we used our strong networks with Burmese civil society to encourage the concept to become locally ‘owned’ by people in communities across Myanmar.
An initial eight day training programme, delivered by a British expert, was cascaded through monthly workshops in five different locations across the country. Workshop participants were carefully selected for tailor-made training in the local language.
This led to the creation of local ‘business and human rights’ working groups which we continue to support through the Millennium Centre network.
The result has been the establishment in 2013 of the multi donor funded Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), a leading resource point for international and Burmese businesses, investors, governments and domestic civil society networks.
We have since worked with MCRB and IHRB experts to devise a toolkit and deliver training for government officials who screen investment proposals, to help them understand the characteristics and practices of responsible companies.