TNI's work on Burma began in 2003 as part of our Drugs and Democracy programme, through an investigation of opium farming in the country, but has since extended through our partnership with the Burma Center Netherlands to analysis more exclusively focused on the country's long-standing ethnic conflict.
The last few decades have witnessed a dramatic capture of public policy by transnational corporations (TNCs) which has undermined democracy and increased the profits of a small few at the expense of the vast majority of people and the environment. The Transnational Institute has challenged corporate power for several decades, setting up the Transnational Information Exchange in 1978, leading struggles against privatisation of water and carbon by corporations, and in recent years working with allies in Europe and Latin America to hold Permanent Tribunals to expose corporate crimes.
Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) erode the ability of governments to act in the best interests of their citizens by allowing foreign investors to sue sovereign states when governments' social, environmental and economic regulations have affected their profits. TNI, as part of the Seattle to Brussels network, is campaigning for a Just EU Investment policy that puts corporate accountability and human rights above corporate profits!
Whilst a twenty year ceasefire still holds, there is unlikely to be peace and democracy in Burma without a political settlement that addresses ethnic minority needs and goals. The joint Transnational Institute - Burma Center Netherlands aims to stimulate strategic thinking to address ethnic conflict in Burma and give a voice to ethnic nationality groups who have until now been ignored and isolated within the international debate on the country.
Burma/Myanmar is undergoing yet another humanitarian crisis while entering a new critical political stage. In the Kokang region, an opium ban was enforced in 2003, and since mid-2005 no more poppy growing has been allowed in the Wa region. Banning opium in these Shan State regions where most of the Burmese opiates were produced, adds another chapter to the long and dramatic history of drugs, conflict and human suffering.