EarthRights International helped to draft and signed a letter to President Obama this week, urging him to ensure that U.S. companies investing in Myanmar make complete and forthcoming disclosures under the Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements. As we noted last month, the first five reports that were submitted have serious weaknesses that make them less useful for civil society groups and others who want to help businesses avoid human rights impacts arising out of their operations in Myanmar. Most concerning are the absence of disclosures of local partners and contractors, and the decision of a set of investment funds to disclaim any responsibility for due diligence into their investments in a company owned by a Myanmar national and operating in Myanmar with interests in plantation agriculture, simply because the investors classify their investment is “passive.” The lack of due diligence and disclosures for passive investment are clearly against the spirit of the U.S. Reporting Requirements and do not follow best practices including those found in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which the U.S. Government has agreed to and is bound to follow.
EarthRights is asking the President to clarify that companies are expected to report on due diligence, regardless of the passive or hands-on nature of their investment, identify their Myanmar partners, and attach copies of or carefully summarize their relevant policies. We also ask the government to clarify how it is tracking the Reporting Requirements disclosures to ensure that all covered companies are disclosing fully and in a timely manner.