International


Myanmar, Denmark, Japan, the United States of America, the European Union, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) convened the second Stakeholders’ Forum of the Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labour Rights and Practices in Myanmar (‘the Initiative’) on September 29 and 30 in Yangon.

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New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that a decision by the United States to give military assistance to countries that recruit and use child soldiers, including Burma, fails child soldiers but is not unexpected.

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During his first visit to Kachin State the U.S. Ambassador, Scot Marciel, told internally displaced persons (IDPs) that he would report to the U.S. government on their situation and think of ways he can help them.

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In November 2014 US President Barack Obama announced that Peace Corps would open a program in Myanmar – the 141st country to work with the US government-funded organisation, established in 1961.

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The European Union praised Myanmar’s progress from the release of political prisoners to the efforts of the government to address the challenges of Rakhine State and to holding the inclusive Union Peace Conference. As a result, the EU said that it would not table a human rights resolution on Myanmar at the United Nations for the first time in 25 years, state media reported on 25 September.

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Two weeks ago the Obama administration declared that it will drop all remaining economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar. Since 1997, when the sanctions were established as a response to the gross human rights abuses being committed by the country’s ruling junta, they have prevented any tangible trade between the two countries.

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United States Ambassador Scot Marciel has defended the Obama administration’s decision to lift remaining economic sanctions against Myanmar, telling an audience Tuesday that continued restrictions against tycoons and junta figures would undermine the country’s economic growth.

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France has allocated € 1.4 M to improve food security in Rakhine and Kachin States and to contribute rebuilding livelihoods in Chin State in 2016, the French Embassy to Myanmar said in a statement on 21 September.

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The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Myanmar is currently surveying business practices in order to give annual awards recognizing corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities by US companies in Burma.

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Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday pledged to promote human rights in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state as the Nobel laureate made her UN debut as her country’s de facto leader.

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US Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel yesterday defended the decision to purge the sanctions list, referring to the embargoes as no longer politically expedient and a constraint on trade between the two countries.

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Burma and the southern African nation of Swaziland on Wednesday became the latest countries to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

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State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s appointment of the Kofi Annan-led commission on Rakhine State clearly evidences the government’s recognition that these issues have risen to an international scale. Such a commission, and the inclusion of foreign experts, could not have been conceived of even a year ago.

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A new microfinance programme backed by the US government’s foreign aid agency USAID aims to promote the growth of medium-sized businesses in Burma and fill the “missing middle” in the country’s economy.

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The resettlement of refugees from Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria, has been the center of a heated political debate after President Barack Obama last year pledged to resettle at least 10,000 refugees from the war-torn country in the United States.

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Burma’s Navy Chief Admiral Tin Aung San left for the United States on Monday to attend an international naval meeting at the US Naval War College (NWC) in Rhode Island, becoming the country’s first high-ranking military official to go to the US since sanctions were lifted against Burma last week.

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Pressure is growing on the European Union to again table a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution critical of Myanmar’s human rights record, after the EU signalled last week that the 28-nation bloc was dropping the motion for the first time in a quarter century.

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During State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s first visit to the United States after the National League of Democracy won a historic victory in the 2015 elections, international experts and scholars called on US policymakers to reestablish cooperation between the US military and the Burma Army.

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Burma’s long oppressed ethnic groups and critics of the country’s military generals are beginning to understand that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s US visit will bring business opportunities, wealth and blanket amnesty to many rich and powerful people who remain out of favor.

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The success of Aung San Suu Kyi’s latest trip to Washington may mark a new chapter in Myanmar’s relations with the United States but the ongoing civil war in the country gives China control over crucial levers of pressure on its neighbour that the distant superpower can hardly match.

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