A UN Nations working group called upon businesses in Myanmar Wednesday to cease support for the military junta that has taken control of the country.
The Working Group on Business and Human Rights released a statement praising those businesses that have cut ties to the military and have stood firm in upholding the rule of law, but noted that many businesses have continued to engage in transactions with the military despite the coup and the ongoing deterioration of civil society in Myanmar. The group pointed to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a document that emphasizes the responsibility businesses have to respect human rights and do everything in their power to prevent or mitigate human rights abuses that are linked to their business operations.
The group stated that the military’s business ties, both with foreign and domestic companies, have remained largely unchanged throughout the coup. They noted that businesses should suspend payments and other sources of finance to the military in a targeted way, in order to minimize any negative impacts on their employees and on the general population. UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews urged businesses to “exert the maximum leverage on the military in Myanmar,” to help put an end to what “may amount to crimes against humanity.” Vice-chair of the Working Group Surya Deva said there may even come a point when foreign businesses need to cut ties and “suspend operations or even consider exit from the country if risks of involvement in human rights abuse cannot be reasonably managed.”
The February 1 coup d’etat and ongoing civil unrest has led to the deaths of hundreds and the detention of thousands at the hands of the military and has brought condemnation from nations and human rights groups around the world.