Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Havel on Burma

Vaclav Havel says increase the pressure on Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi is going to be 60 on Sunday and he would also like to give her a rose. He thinks that Castro made fools of the EU, and hopes (a hope needs no foundation in reality) that the same will not happen again with Burma.

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Thanks for posting this link to Havel’s article. He is completely right about Burma. Those like economist Jeff Sachs who think that taking off the sanctions on Burma will lead to "engagement" are naive and misinformed--engagement requires an interlocutor and the Burmese regime simply refuses to talk in any meaningful away about democracy and human rights.

One bogus argument that is often used to oppose sanctions in the EU is that these sanctions would violate WTO law. However, the WTO rules allow exceptions for trade restrictions on "public morals" grounds, among others. The argument about the WTO was also made when the US Congress was considering the US embargo bill, and I and other WTO specialists worked with the Free Burma Coalition to counter it with an analysis of the actual WTO provisions in question.

As we predicted, Burma hasn’t dared to bring a WTO action against the United States for its embargo. When US trade policy was reviewed by the WTO last year, the Burma ban didn’t even get mention, let alone a criticism. Trade measures against Burma also have a basis in legal instruments of the International Labor Organization.


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