MCRB facilitates discussion between Ericsson and civil society groups
On 21 July, MCRB facilitated a discussion in Yangon between Swedish telecoms company Ericsson and around 20 representatives of trade unions and civil society organisations who have a focus on business and human rights issues such as land, community engage
Ericsson wanted to conduct this stakeholder consultation as part of ongoing assessment of the human rights impacts that their business in Myanmar might have. To MCRB’s knowledge, this is the first time in Myanmar history that a company has held a civil society consultation on a human rights risk analysis or impact assessment.
MCRB was therefore keen to support this initiative as part of its objective of promoting dialogue, and also to use the inputs received from participants to shape the sector-wide impact assessment (SWIA) on information and Communication Technology (ICT) which MCRB will undertake in the coming months. Jan Wassenius, Country Manager presented on Ericsson’s business activities in Myanmar, which are currently focussed on the supply of telecoms equipment to Telenor, one of the two foreign operators rolling out new mobile networks, and on managing their network services. He and Stephanie Huf, Vice-President Public Affairs, Marketing & Corporate Responsibility (Ericsson South East Asia), explained the rationale and process for the human rights impact assessment, which Ericsson had been conducting with the help of business/human rights non-profit centre SHIFT.
Questions and comments at the meeting ranged across all activities in the telecom sector, with a focus on labour conditions and safety, particularly in the supply chain (including mast construction and equipment installation). They also covered effective community engagement strategies, local recruitment, the need for companies to provide communities with information , particularly about safety of telecoms radiation, how communities could make complaints about the activities of the telecoms companies, and the importance of companies facilitating civil society input into the modernisation of Myanmar telecoms legislation including on issues such as interception and privacy.