Statement 101 Views

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

November 16th, 2016  •  Author:   209 Myanmar , European and other Civil Society Organizations  •  9 minute read

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)
  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
  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 and 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
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.…
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.