Regulating Infrastructure: Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals in Myanmar


Infrastructure projects, including roads, railways, power, telecommunications and water facilities, are considered necessary to promote many different human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Infrastructure development has been a central feature of the Myanmar government’s policies, including the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan 2018–2030, to sustain economic growth and achieve the SDGs. As in many countries, public–private partnerships are promoted to help implement these policies. Yet, infrastructure projects have been associated with serious human rights violations, including in Myanmar. This article explores the links between infrastructure, international human rights law and the SDGs. It analyses how this relationship is governed by international, domestic, ‘soft’ law and self-regulatory mechanisms. It then assesses Myanmar’s legal and policy framework for promoting infrastructure investment and implementing the SDGs. It concludes that there is scope to further clarify responsibilities and accountability mechanisms for the human rights impacts of infrastructure investment.