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The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) efforts since the early 1990s to address the forced labour situation in Myanmar represent a rare example of success in influencing the behaviour of that regime, and this book gives a first-hand account of these efforts.
As the ILO’s representative in the country, the author was able to operate a complaint system for victims of forced labour, resulting in prosecutions of government officials and an end to many abuses. In addition to giving a fascinating insider’s account of how this was achieved, and the many challenges encountered, the book examines in detail why one of the most repressive military regimes allowed the ILO to operate a complaints mechanism in the first place, and why it felt the need to take action in response to some of those complaints.
This book will make a significant contribution to thinking on how to influence authoritarian regimes, as well as understanding the dynamic of relations with Myanmar. As such it is an essential read for scholars of international relations and global governance, human rights, international law and Southeast Asian studies.
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Richard Horsey spent 10 years working for the International Labour Organization on forced labour in Myanmar. As a political analyst he has written for the International Crisis Group, Chatham House, the World Bank, the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum, and the Transnational Institute.Review:
"[T]he book's relevance cannot be emphasised enough. It illustrates that an international organisation when it gets into “the long and difficult work” with a sophisticated and finely tuned approach can, indeed, change the abusive behaviour of a regime and make a difference for many people. It thus contributes to a wider discussion on the detrimental effect of sanctions in that they hamper the chance of influencing an abusive regime by the process of standardising norms, procedures and behaviours that comes with international co-operation. In fact, the ILO strategy could become a model for engaging not only Burma but also other authoritarian regimes and, therefore, the book deserves a wide readership of not only professionals in international organisations but also Burma activists and scholars and especially policy makers." - Susanne Prager-Nyein, Misericordia University; Journal of Contemporary Asia, Volume 42, Issue 1, 2012
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