After decades of isolation – imposed by major OECD countries out of concern for the country’s human rights violations – Myanmar is emerging as a new darling of the “West” – judging by the accelerating succession of visits by senior officials and gurus – among them the US Secretary of State, the UK Foreign Secretary, and high-level government officials from France, Norway and other countries. The UN Secretary General may pay a visit. The World Bank is being urged to resume work there – which had not been possible due to the international sanctions policy. And new groups of investors are waiting to enter the country as soon as possible. By Gabriele Köhler
This sudden enthusiasm, after years of ostracising the country and depriving it of any bi- or multilateral development cooperation save of a humanitarian nature, is a response to – much welcome – changes introduced by a government that came into power in 2011 in an orchestrated election process. Recent reforms include the release of some political prisoners, the re-constitution of the Myanmar human rights commission, the weakening of censure and an opening of internet access, the adoption of a law allowing trade unions and the right to strike, the suspension of an environmentally damaging hydropower project with China, and other steps ...
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