Myanmar: ICJ workshop to raise awareness about human rights obligations in relation to investment

The ICJ held a successful workshop with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on ‘Investment Law Challenges: Defending Public Policy in Investor State Arbitration’.

The event took place in Nay Pyi Taw from 6 to 8 July 2015 and was attended by 60 participants from the OAG and other Ministries.

The workshop was designed to raise awareness about Myanmar’s human rights obligations in relation to investment and to build the OAG’s capacity to draft law that carves out regulatory space for public policy making.

The workshop also prepared the OAG for challenges to public policy through arbitration with a moot court exercise.

The topic is timely as Myanmar rushes to draft new investment law and sign Bilateral Investment Treaties that give investors standing to challenge public policy promoting and protecting human rights.

In opening the workshop, Director General U Kyaw San spoke of the rapid increase of investment in Myanmar and the corresponding changes in its regulatory system.

Dr. Na Chi Oo, a speaker for the OAG, outlined the challenges this poses to the drafting of new public policy.

Participants heard from ICJ Commissioner Prof Andrew Clapham who discussed globalization, investment arbitration and public policy.

He examined the use of human rights law in investment arbitrations.

Guest speaker Prof. Anthony Daimsis introduced bilateral investment treaties and highlighted provisions that can restrict state regulatory space.

Prof. Errol Mendes gave examples of international cases in which public policy has been challenged.

Ms. Harpreet Kaur Dhillon, from the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore gave practical advice for drafting law that protects the regulatory role of the state.

Dr. Daniel Aguirre, ICJ Legal Adviser, added that “Myanmar needs to update its regulatory system to protect the environment and human rights. It must make sure it does not sign away its regulatory role through investment law and bilateral treaties.”

The event culminated with a moot arbitration exercise where OAG participants engaged in a mock consultation process and a simulated arbitration over a public health policy.

The ICJ was impressed by the interest and genuine commitment of the participants to promote the rule of law and public policy in Myanmar.

The ICJ staff enjoyed open and frank discussion with the Attorney General and is Director Generals on relevant legal developments and looks forward to further discourse.

The ICJ remains committed to provide support in this field in line with the promotion and protection of human rights.


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