Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Burma & disinvestment

As is probably pretty clear, I am not a fan of disinvestment. This is principally because I think it achieves little, and usually falls into the 'not in my name' sort of political stance which seeks to be morally pure yet is non-engaged on a practical level. I think it's usually much better to keep plugging away for incremental change rather than washing your hands because you can't get everything you want. As such the vast majority of the time I think engagement is a much, much better option.

However, the question of Burma causes me all kinds of problems. I really don't see how engagement can work either on the country or company level. Having heard quite a bit over the years from people from the labour movement and other campaigners involved with this issue I don't think it is possible for a company to do business there without supporting (maybe legitimising?) the junta. It may not even be possible to do business there in some sectors without benefiting indirectly or otherwise from the use of forced labour.

In addition the push for disinvestment is coming very clearly from Burma's democracy movement. This is not a question of campaigners outside the country importing their own tactics.

So, having thought about it a lot, I really just don't see a workable alternative to disinvestment. As such I think this is an issue that we really ought to get our teeth into from the investor perspective. I'll be posting more soon...

Just to get you started:

No comments: