Suspend negotiations for an investment protection agreement between the EU and Myanmar

Open letter
16 Noviembre 2016
Article

Civil society from Myanmar and the European Union are calling for the suspension of negotiations for an investment protection agreement between the EU and Myanmar until the European Court of Justice has ruled on the compatibility of the controversial Investment Court System (ICS) dispute settlement mechanism, with the EU Treaties.

Ahead of the fourth round of negotiations on an Investment Protection Agreement (IPA), the undersigned civil society organisations call the attention of decision-makers to the dramatic consequences that the EU-Myanmar IPA could have on human rights, democratic decision making and peace building in Myanmar.

Myanmar is in a state in transition, that faces formidable challenges to build regulatory frameworks, including to protect the economic, social and cultural right of its people as well as its natural resources.

Inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in the EU-Myanmar IPA will seriously hamper any initiatives for equitable and sustainable development by laying Myanmar wide open to multimillion dollar law suits by foreign investors should the governments introduce new and tighter regulation to protect public health, access to water, access to public services, degradation of the environment and regulation supporting a sustainable peace in Myanmar.

Politicians in the EU have begun to question whether ICS as it is currently included in the EU’s trade and investment agreement doesn’t conflict with the founding Treaties of the EU. In the political debate surrounding the signing of the CETA agreement between the EU and Canada, the parliament of the Belgian region of Wallonia requested and obtained the concession that the compatibility of ICS with the European Treaties must now be judged by the European Court of Justice.

The undersigned organisations demand that the Investment Protection Agreement negotiations between the European Union and Myanmar be suspended until the European Court of Justice issues this crucial ruling.

Myanmar should not feel pressured to prematurely accept an IPA with far-reaching substantive investor protections and investor-state dispute settlement. There is no compelling reason for Myanmar to sign an investment treaty like the one proposed by the EU that will only serve to lock-in future policy space in Myanmar, space that is much needed to make Myanmar’s transition towards a more democratic, equitable and sustainable development a success. Investment protection agreements are not a key determinant for foreign investors when they decide to invest abroadi.

Alfred de Zayas, Independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order appointed by the Human Rights Council of the UN, has gone as far as to recommend that states abolish the investor–state dispute settlement system altogether.ii 

Further, in Myanmar, the substantive provisions the IPA offers to foreign investors are likely to interfere with EU-backed efforts to bring Myanmar’ legislation with regard to human rights, labour and environmental protection in line with customary international law and standards. In this respect, an EU-Myanmar IPA including an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ICS) contradicts the EU’s own principles on policy coherence for development.

Signed by:

Myanmar organisations :

  1. Metta Development Foundation

  2. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)

  3. Paungku

  4. Myanmar People Alliance

  5. Danu Youth

  6. Freethinkers

  7. Developmental Justice Myanmar

  8. Community Response Group (ComReG)

  9. Ahlineain development organization

  10. Youth for Social Change (Myanmar)

  11. Myanmar Deaf Community Development Association – MDCDA

  12. Shan State Peace Task Force

  13. Shwechinthae Social Service Group (shwebo)

  14. Natural Green Alliance

  15. Sein Yaung So

  16. Kanbawza youth library network

  17. Mong Pan Youth Association

  18. Andin youth organization

  19. YPHN

  20. Phoenix Association

  21. Myanmar Youth Sociery Network

  22. Sidoktayar Development Organization (SDO)

  23. COM

  24. Citizens' Rights Protection (Yangon)

  25. Myaung Mya Youth Network

  26. SHANAH

  27. KGG Network (Kungyangon)

  28. Lighthouse social development organization. Ayarwaddy

  29. Lighthouse social development organization. Tha Bound

  30. Youth Organization (TYO-YG)

  31. chin National Youth Network (KNYN), Kachin State

  32. KYO Kachin Youth Organization, Kachin State

  33. Green wave environmental conservation networks. Ayarwaddy

  34. Community Center

  35. Chin Youth Network

  36. KNGY (Kayan New Generation Youth),

  37. Karenni Nationalities People's Liberation Front-Youth

  38. State Women Network

  39. Ta'ang Student Youth Union, Shan State

  40. LAIN Technical Support Group, (Loikaw, Karenni)

  41. Khun Tan Nwe PaOh Youth Network, Mon State

  42. We Are Tai (Peace and Local Development Group)

  43. Union of Karenni State Youth (UKSY) Karenni State , Loikaw

  44. Social Vision Services

  45. Tavoyan Youth Organization

  46. Women For Women Foundation (WWF)Karenni

  47. ThePLAN: Public Legal Aid Network

  48. kayan new generation youth- KNGY

  49. Nature Lover (Mandalay)

  50. Rakhine Youth Generation (Rakhine State)

  51. Third Eye Network (Mindat, Chin State)

  52. Taungzalatt (Mindat, Chin State)

  53. Shwe Bo Buddhist Youth (Shwe Bo, Sagaing), Aung Naing Aye

  54. Mizzima Hnalonethat (Loikaw, Kayah)

  55. Wet Nyo Nyo Tun (Moe Nyin, Kachin State)

  56. SNOW OR DEW BUDDHIST YOUTH (SODBY)

  57. Eco Wave CBO (Tahnintharyi), Beautiful Beach

  58. Development Network (BBDN) Nga Yoke Kaung Tsp, Ayeyarwaddy

  59. Kan Chay Arr Man fishery development Network Nga Yoke Kaung Tsp, Ayeyarwaddy

  60. MATA (AYY) Pathein, Ayeyarwaddy

  61. Pann Tai Shin regional development organization Maw Lamyine Kyun Tsp, Ayeyarwaddy

  62. Shwe Hmaw Wun Kyauktan region Development org. Kyauktan, Yangon

  63. Real image social development organization Bogalay, Ayeyarwaddy, Thein Than Oo

  64. Our Lovely World (Taunggyi, Shan State)

  65. Kun Gyan Gone Network, Kun Gyan Gone Tsp, Yangon

  66. Naga Students and Youth Federation-Yangon

  67. IFI Watch Myanmar, Yangon Division, Myanmar (Burma)

  68. IFI Watch Kyun Su, Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar (Burma)

  69. 88 Generation Myeik, Kyun Su, Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar (Burma)

  70. Green Network (Kyun Su)

  71. Kyun Su, Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar (Burma)

  72. Merguie Archipelago, Kyun Su, Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar (Burma)

  73. Myanmar China Pipeline Watch Committee

  74. Peace & Open Society (Kyaukse Township)

  75. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency & Accountability (Mandalay Working Group),

  76. Farmer Union (Kyaukse)

  77. Bago MATA Working Groug

  78. Bago Youth Network

  79. Myat Won Thit Knowledge Society

  80. The Gone Youth Network

  81. Shwe Yeik Sit Environmental Group

  82. Shwe Kyin Chit Thu Group

  83. Maw GwunThit Network

  84. Alin Theinta Group

  85. Alin Saytaman Group

  86. SDO

  87. Myitmakha Watch

  88. Kyaukyi Development Watch

  89. East light

  90. Sittaung Thansin Network

  91. Kalyana Mitta Foundation (Yangon), Bo Bo Lwin

  92. Wan Lark Development Foundation (Arakan)

  93. Social Program Aid for Civic Education (Arakan)

  94. Arakan Women Network (Arakan)

  95. All Arakan Civil Society Organizations Partnership (Arakan)

  96. AD 2030 Vision (Sittwe)

  97. Tha Zin Ligeal Aid (Arakan)

  98. Kyauk Phyu Social Network (Kyauk Phyu)

  99. SKY youth (Kyauk Phyu)

  100. Arakan National Network (Lay Daung)

  101. Ah Linn Tager Library (Sittwe)

  102. Environmental Protection Organization(Ponnagyun)

  103. Environmental Protection Organization(Kyauktaw)

  104. Environmental Protection Organization (Mrauk oo)

  105. Airavati

  106. Nagphe AWDO

  107. Metta Lat Kan – Myeik (Tanintharyi)

  108. POINT-Promotion Of Indigenous and Nature Together

  109. Tha Pyu Chaine Youth Parahita (Tha Pyu Chaine-Thandwe)

  110. Rammer Shwe Myae Parahita Association (Ram Bray)

  111. May Yu Rin Thwe Social Association (Rathedaung)

  112. New Generation Youth Association (Buthe Daung)

  113. Ma Yu Kam Development Assocation (Rathedaung)

  114. Independent Volunteers, PBDN, Yangon

  115. DDA Dawei Development Association

  116. DRA Dawei Research Association

  117. Dawei Active Youth

  118. Dawei Youth Fellowship

  119. Community Sustainable Livelihood Development Committee

  120. Dawei Farmer Union

  121. Green Generation

  122. Human Rights Watch - Dawei

  123. DWF - Dawei Watch Foundation

  124. Law Home Law Firm (Loikaw, Kayah State)

  125. KPN Kachin Peace Network

  126. Doh Myay Kun Yat / Land in our Hands Network

  127. Sane Lann Pyin Oo Lwin

  128. Maymyo Farmer Development network Pyin Oo Lwin

  129. Open Data Myanmar

  130. PoPP Pace on Peaceful Pleurism

  131. Tontay Youth Network

  132. Ayeyawady West Development Organization

  133. Action Group for Farmer Affair- Mandalay

  134. Action Group for Farmer Affair- Sagaing

  135. Action Group for Farmer Affair-Bago

  136. Action Group for Farmer Affair- Magway

  137. Action Group for Farmer Affair-Ayeyawady

  138. Action Group for Farmer Affair- Rakhine

  139. Action Group for Farmer Affair-Northern Shan

  140. Farmers Development and Environment Conservation Organization

  141. Farmers And Landworkers Union (SHAN)

  142. 139. Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO)

  143. Wunpawng Ninghtoi (WPN)

  144. Chin Youth Network

  145. KMSS

  146. Zinlum Committee (Tamphae) Kachin

  147. Kachin State Youth Network

  148. Uakthon Local Social Development Organization

  149. Peace and Justice (Kachin)

  150. Kanpetlet Land Development Organization

  151. K' Cho Land Development Organization

  152. Golden Heard Organization

  153. Democratic Education Coner(DEC)

  154. Hin Thar Dagon Group ( Bago- Lappandan)

  155. Yoma Chitthu Group

  156. MATA ( Ayeyawady)

  157. Min Hla Youth Network

  158. Green Trust Pyin Oo Lwin

  159. Human Rights Educators Network

  160. United ACT

  161. Equality Myanmar

  162. Bedar Social Development Group

  163. Right and Peace Organization (Kalay)

  164. Alinn Bamaw Organization

  165. Mwae Taung Area Development Group

  166. Matupi Women Organization

  167. 88 Generation (Moenyin-Kachin)

  168. Shwechinthae Farmers Network

  169. Shwe Bo- Sagaing

  170. Mar Ya Ja Organization

  171. Myitkyina-Kachin

  172. Bommazayya Social Development Asdociation

  173. Green Light Organization

  174. MATA (Mon)

  175. Mon State CSOs Network

  176. Local Development Network (Mon)

  177. MATA (Shan)

  178. Pyoe Khinn Thit Foundation (Maubin)

  179. Mon State CSOs’ Network

  180. Ye Social Society

  181. BOBOWIN EMERGENCY RESCUE SERVICE

  182. Mawlamyine Natural Disaster prevention and rescue organization (Mon state)

  183. Bee Lin - Win Ka Village Ambulance association (Mon state)

  184. Ka Mar Sai Social support organization (Mon state)

  185. Mon state youth network

  186. Mawlamyine youth association

  187. Mawlamyine youth network

  188. Future Light Youth (Mon state)

  189. Nate Ban Shwe Pyi Youth Social association, Ka Tike Kye Village, Thahton (Mon state)

  190. Bilin CSOs'network

  191. Kan Let Youth Social organization - Kin Mon Chaung Village. Kyeikhto (Mon state)

  192. Karen Peace Support Network

  193. Farmers Network (Matehtilar District; Matehtilar, Tharsi, Wan Twin)


 

European and other Organisations :

  1. The Association Suisse-Birmanie
  2. Free Burma Campaign (South Africa) (FBC(SA))

  3. Burma Link

  4. U.S campaign for Burma

  5. Progressive Voice

  6. Swedish Burma Committee

  7. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)

  8. Society for Threatened Peoples

  9. Seattle2Brussels network (S2B):

  10. War on Want

  11. Ecologistas en Acción (Spain)

  12. Secours Catholique - Caritas France

  13. Both ENDS

  14. AITEC

  15. Info Birmanie

  16. Transnational Institute (TNI)

1 In 2010, the European Commission interviewed 300 European companies about the relevance of the treaties, and find out that only 10% had a working knowledge of investment treaties, 40% had some general awareness and 50% had no knowledge at all. European Commission, Survey of the Attitudes of the European Business Community to International Investment Rules, TN Sofres Consulting on behalf of European Commission DG Trade, 2000 http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/html/111125.htm and http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/html/111127.htmIn another survey of American multinationals (among Fortune 500), “the responses indicate a low level of familiarity with BITs, a pessimistic view of their ability to protect against adverse host state actions, and a low level of influence over FDI decisions” J Yackee (2011) Do Bilateral Investment Treaties Promote Foreign Direct Investment?, 51 Virginia J Int’l Law, p429 http://ssrn.com/abstract=1594887.
2 ‘UN Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas recommends abolishing current ISDS regime’, in: Investment Treaty News, International Istitute for Sustainable Development (IISD), November 26, 2015. https://www.iisd.org/itn/2015/11/26/un-independent-expert-alfred-de-zaya...
3 Seattle2Brussels network (S2B) is a Europe-wide network of over 60 development, environment, human rights, women and farmers organisations, trade unions, social movements as well as research institutes.