Washington International Law Journal


For the past three decades, the repressive military junta that has ruled Burma has engaged in torture, extra-judicial killings, compulsory labor, and arbitrary arrests and detentions. Economic growth and human development in Burma have stagnated. In response to human rights abuses and uninhibited drug production and trafficking, the United States imposed investment sanctions on Burma in 1997. However, Burma's regional alliances and illicit profits from drugs have filled any vacuum left by withdrawal of U.S. investments and have neutralized the effect of the sanctions. Therefore, the United States needs to rethink its current sanctions scheme. The United States should consider a policy of constructive engagement to promote change, sustainable self-help, and growth in Burma. Further, the United States should promote international diplomatic involvement and should also support the establishment of a national human rights commission in Burma. Alternatively, if the United States believes that sanctions are the best method of promoting positive change in Burma, it should work with a multilateral organization such as the World Trade Organization or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a multilateral sanctions scheme.

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