On April 17, the U.S. Treasury issued new General License No. 14-C, which relaxes
sanctions on financial services with respect to certain
humanitarian and not-for-profit activities in Burma.
This License allows financial services to support a broader
range of development projects than was previously permitted, and
includes: (1) projects to meet basic human needs; (2) democracy
building and good governance projects; (3) educational activities;
(4) sporting activities; (5) non-commercial development projects
directly benefiting the Burmese people; and (6) religious
The new License means that Burma, long starved of aid money,
will experience an increase in the presence of international
non-governmental organizations. Presumably, some of the
financing will also flow to local not-for-profits, which have been
growing in number in recent years. Burma ranks the lowest of
any mainland East Asian country on the U.N.'s Human Development
Index, so there is clearly an opportunity to make a difference.
The extent to which development organizations have a positive
impact will depend in part on the extent to which they obtain
access to conflict areas; the capacity of the government to work
with international civil society organizations; and the ability of
organizations to hire well-trained local staff, given that
Burma's universities were closed for many years. Additionally,
although not-for-profits' programs certainly have the ability
to improve development indicators, a report by the Project 2049
Institute outlines the risk that aid organizations will
accidentally foster conflict in Burma, and lays out parameters to
help donors and development groups avoid such unintended
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