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Commentary: Businesses must prioritize access to remedy in states with weak rule of law

Author: Daniel Aguirre, Greenwich University, Business and Human Rights Journal, Published on: 20 November 2017

"Obligations to respect and protect human rights are meaningless without access to remedy in states where the rule of law is weak: The example of Myanmar", 20 Nov 2017

The international community must make clear that access to remedy [the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights] is the priority and that non-binding arrangements and other guidelines are secondary to this legal obligation...Although the international community has made progress encouraging companies to respect and States to protect human rights, access to remedy must underpin these UNGP ‘pillars’, particularly in developing or transitional states like Myanmar…

Investment in Myanmar has long been associated with human rights abuse [such as]…land grabs [and]…land confiscation and displacement... Even where a investor intends to respect human rights, they may operate in a Special Economic Zone or an industrial park developed in violation of human rights... Myanmar does not provide adequate access to remedy for victims of business related human rights abuses…

The judicial system in Myanmar is under-resourced, lacks capacity and is corrupt, particularly at the township level where most people access it... Non-judicial mechanisms like administrative procedures, national human rights commissions and ombudspersons can play a complementary role where the judiciary may lack resources or independence... [and] can…only be effective if the mechanisms are compliant with due process standards and can provide remedy…Businesses in Myanmar…have a responsibility to facilitate non-State-based procedures, such as operational grievance mechanisms...[which] can help to improve access to remedy and reparation where business has caused or contributed to adverse impacts.

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