Economic growth in Southeast Asia has bought jobs and increased state revenues, but also wrought labour rights violations, community dispossession of land and natural resources, and environmental degradation. Carl Middleton argues that economic reform starts with greater Corporate Accountability, including across borders.
Questions are being raised about the complicity of Thailand’s state-run power utility – EGAT under the Ministry of Energy – in serious human rights violations in the building of the massive US$10 billion Mong Ton (formerly called the Tasang) dam in the Upper Salween River in Myanmar.
Seeds are at the heart of food production, but are increasingly controlled by a few multinational companies. No one expected “uneducated” farmers could breed viable crop seeds, but Thai groups have proved they have the right skills, and communities are drawing the benefit. In this process, small-scale farmers are opening alternative paths to the increasing monopolisation of our agricultural system
From ensuring access to natural resources to protection against exposure to health-damaging pollution, a clean and healthy environment and the fulfillment of human rights cannot be separated. In this Commons Comment, Carl Middleton and Aadi Samarkand argue that while there is a long way to go to in recognizing the right to a healthy environment in Southeast Asia, some windows of opportunity exist.
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), to be launched in 2015, aims to create a single market and production base. Dorothy Guerrero examines whether this advances socio-economic development in the ASEAN region, or results in damage to people’s general well-being, human rights and environmental security.
While opening up to greater democracy, Myanmar is entering a period of neoliberal market reforms and privatization of its natural resources. Newly drafted “land concession” legislation favor agribusiness, and land grabs result from continued government reliance on top-down authoritarian approaches to development.
In the Mekong Region, after decades of governments, donors, corporations, experts and others pursuing development, winners and losers have emerged. In this first “Commons Comment” editorial, we discuss the changing lives in the Mekong Region, new development trends, impacts on the commons, and why Mekong Commons was initiated.