From Interim Strategy to Full Country Partnership: Lessons from Myanmar
Sponsors: Burma Partnership, AltSEAN, US Campaign for Burma, Project 2049 Institute, Conflict Risk Network
Panelists: Khin Ohmar (Coordinator, Burma Partnership), CHAIR: Debbie Stothard (Secretary General, FIDH),
Debbie Stothard (Altsean-Burma and Secretary General FIDH):
- Peace process- shake with one hand and shoot with the other. No participation of women.
- Perpetual Interment of Rowinga population. Anti-Muslim legislation. Bill passed prohibiting inter-faith marriages. Government has requested that private firms not hire Muslims.
- How does one halt a genocidal population and prevent investors from exposure to these violations. Rekine state scramble for lands linked to natural gas. Government sells lands to cronies once population flees.
- How can due diligence be guaranteed to prevent gross violations of human rights.
- Government has been given time to expand genocidal actions against Muslim community and the rooting of an ultra-nationalist Buddhist movement. Impunity for sex crimes. Time to legitimise land-grabbing. Increased poverty.
Jelson Garcia (BIC):
WB 2011 – alleged paradigm shift in way that Bank deals with FCS. Increase capacity and identify possibilities for support peacebuilding, early support for confidence-building measures and investments.
US Campaign for Burma:
- IFI watch Myanmar – work together to decide response/ engagement to Bank.
- Primary concern – lack of substance in CSO consultation. CPF – substantive changes to consultations proposed. To date the process has been centred in Rangoon. Primary concern voiced by all organisations in IFI watch.
- Joint submission – more than 50 organisations have put to Bank for Country Partnership Framework.
- First concern: use of conflict-sensitive approach. Ongoing conflict. Impact of energy policy. Have suggested a conflict-mapping exercise. Since 2011 investment and development have become drivers of conflict. Thus organisations working on human rights have had to adjust to ask questions regarding causes of displacement, which is now very much linked to economic/ development issues. This is the trend even beyond indigenous areas.
- Concern with land confiscation – governance over land favours the state. Two new laws passed to strengthen state power to confiscate land. Affects issues of nutrition and poverty. Lack of formal grievance mechanism as judiciary is not independent. The approach must go beyond projects and be seen from a systemic/ country-strategy perspective.
- Need to revisit financing for agriculture – micro credit will not necessarily work in agriculture.
- SMEs – economy run by cronies – formation of monopolies. Son of general runs monopoly in seed company. Bank should get involved in dealing with governance issues.
- Banking sector is also problematic. Changes are needed to financing to SME – law prohibits any firm less than three-years from receiving finance. Change cannot derive from IFC involvement with crony financiers. Most SMEs are not in fact SMEs, they are linked to very entrenched interests.
- Energy – Burma not energy poor, although population is energy poor. Most energy is exported to China and Thailand. Joint submission has stressed need for attention to local energy needs. Have demanded clean, not coal, energy.
- Hydropower – Indications that Bank may be interested in hydropower. All proposed damns are in ethnic areas and are large projects opposed by local communities.
Human Rights Watch – contribution to Framework – all analysis must be based on Human Rights-based approach. Arakan state -Rowinga area in pre-genocidal period, also victim of scramble for resources, including tourism development.
BIC – to be fair, Bank is in the process of conducting Country Diagnostics assessment. CSO have stressed need not to de-linked development from ongoing conflict dynamics.
New Country Manager of Bank in Myanmar –
- Nothing being said is alien to new Manager. WDR 2011 is informing Bank activities in Myanmar.
- Systematic Country Diagnostics – will integrate conflict lens. Working to support transition to democracy, conflict and ‘normal’ economy. Happy to hear from CSOs that are working hard with colleagues in Myanmar.
- Bank has attempted to support CSO consultation. Working toward twin goals. Discussion for CPF – timeline – March 2015 to the Board.
- Looks forward to ongoing consultations. Is using conflict filters, not limited to investments but also in ‘knowledge work.’ Minimum, do no harm, but seeking to support positive transition.
- Focus on inclusion. Conflict filter will be very much part of Bank strategy. Very committed, along with IFC to manage complex transition.
- Recognise the challenges. At the end the clients are the people of Myanmar. Share common interest.
- Will Bank respond to the CSO submission? A: yes, absolutely.
- With CPF many more consultations will take place. Hope to use consultations to inform programme. Not one-off discussion, it is an ongoing dialogue. Need to take into consideration comparative advantage, will not attempt to do everything.
Electrification – will focus on needs of rural areas, not urban areas where some access can be had.
- On Land – land governance assessment framework – puts domestic stakeholders at the centre. Eg, formally in Moldova – where domestic stakeholders drove the process. Committed to responding to all partners that have participated in consultations.
BIC – Have heard Bank commitments but must follow-up.
Centre for Policy Alternatives (Colombo)
Burma presentation mirrors Sri Lanka experiences.
2009 – war has ended but not conflict. Increasing militarisation and human rights violations. Breakdown of rule of law. Post war development drive. Urban planning department now under Ministry of Defense.
Objective – slum-free Colombo by 2030, however Colombo does not have slums such as in Mumbai.
Metro Colombo Urban Development/ Urban Regeneration Project – both necessary for government’s development plan.
WB is building the capacity of a military government, not a democratic institution and providing support to it.
Many forcible evictions – 75 to 135,000 families may be moved to outside Colombo – from government publications and statements.
Government narrative – majority of, admittedly poor people, hold land title. Sri Lanka has quite decent legislative framework. However these are not followed. Taking people to small apartments that cannot be sold – from houses that are legally owned.
750 families are affected by World Bank project – however same agency is involved in both projects, ie, the forcible eviction of 135,000. Agency follows WB standards in the former case, thus neighbours are treated differently. However both sets of people are sharing the same high-rise…Contrast is therefore very evident.
Issues with Bank:
Lack of consultation – staggered by ignorance of Bank staff. Some evictions took place a block away from WB office. Bank has turned a blind eye to evictions. Nothing that can be done, given WB is not involved in the more egregious process.
Lack of awareness of legal changes and processes. WB is funding the capacity of an agency that is involved in gross human rights violations, whether or not funding the second component of URP project.
Bank support to Ministry of Defense is in contravention of Bank’s own efforts to strengthen democratic governance.
Same concerns apply to other international organisations. What is the role of the Bank in ensuring due process? No effort to monitor whether standards, eg, Resettlement Action Plan (RAP), are being implemented.
Bank is well placed to pressurise government as a key lender. Minimum expectation of the Bank.
Bank response – if we pressure the Bank than they would be told to leave. What is then the implication: that the government would rather forego the resources than to follow safeguards.
Burmese CSO representative –
In last census some ethnic minorities not able to participate in process.
BIC – Myanmar is rich in natural resources – expansion of IFC/ MIGA involvement.
EIRIS Conflict Risk Network – works with private investors to support private sector to undertake conflict –sensitive investments.
Work in Sudan, initially originating from Darfur conflict.
Sudan is resource rich and population is energy poor. Have flagged that some sectors should be ‘off limits’ to US investment – ie, divestment. US affirms the responsibility of investor to engage management: human rights, extraction, corruption.
Lessons: IFIs must set the terms of investments and ensure that they are not complicit in abuses. UN framework is the internationally accepted standard. Human rights impact assessments, etc. Expanded pressure for disclosure – eg, US reporting requirement. Investors are using these requirements as a basis for requests for information.
CSO – Conflict sensitive tourism:
Political economy in each state is quite different. Communities are very afraid of mega infrastructure projects.
Kachin CSO leader:
Burma is more complicated than Sudan and Sri Lanka – highlights the impact of drug issues – report “Silent Offensive”. Many people displaced from the fighting have lost rights to land.
What are the main challenges to work in Burma?
International Relations OIC for Movement for Democracy Current Forces and Cooperative Committee for Trade Unions:
Major constraints relate to rule of law challenges.
US Campaign for Burma: many armed groups, including ethnic armed groups, proxy militia, breakaway factions who act as drug lords. Extremely complex web of authority.
In Karen state – during war, at least ‘we could grow rice during rainy season’ because the government would not come. Now we have no land. Drug lords have been given legitimacy through the peace process.
During ‘peace’ military is using drugs to cement authority.
Tilawagh (Jica project 49% stakeholder) special economic zone – ‘best practice’ – workers pay to go to work due to transport costs.
Way forward – use pressure from private investors. Engagement for its sake does not work. Rangoon is a capacity building fest… Myanmar is hungry for development.