ICJ and Chiang Mai University discuss Special Economic Zones in Myanmar and Thailand  

On 22 November, the ICJ, in collaboration with the Legal Research and Development Center under Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Law, held a roundtable discussion on “Human Rights Litigation concerning the Special Economic Zones in Myanmar and Thailand”.

The objective of the discussion, held on campus at Chiang Mai University, was to identify legal issues and to share experiences regarding strategic litigation and advocacy strategies concerning human rights violations associated with the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Thailand and Myanmar.

In recent years, both the Thai and Myanmar governments have been trying to attract foreign direct investment into their countries by demarcating specific areas where special regulations concerning, inter alia, public administration, the environment, land or labour rights might be applied.

Proponents of SEZs tend to link their development with jobs and economic growth, however, there is generally limited publicly available information about their economic or public purpose rationale.

The development of SEZs, which requires a lot of land, can undermine the protection of human rights and the rule of law by creating governance structures and permitting processes less stringent than that required under national and international law.

Participants at the discussion included postgraduate students and lecturers from Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Law, lawyers and representatives from Thai civil society organisations.

The ICJ shared with participants its report analysing the legal framework of SEZs in Myanmar and human rights concerns arising from a case study of Kyauk Phyu SEZ,  ‘Special Economic Zones in Myanmar and the State Duty to Protect Human Rights, during the discussion.


The speakers at the discussion were:

·      Sean Bain, ICJ International Legal Advisor, Myanmar

·      Sumitchai Hattasan, Director, Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights

·      Supaporn Malailoy, EEC Watch, Human Rights and Environmental Lawyer

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