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Free Burma

Transnational Legal Action and Corporate Accountability

2011
Author:

John G. Dale

Free Burma

How Burma’s pro-democracy movement transcends its borders

Through the experience of the Free Burma movement, John G. Dale demonstrates how social movements create and appropriate legal mechanisms for generating new transnational political opportunities. Dale’s work also raises the issue of how foreign policies of so-called constructive engagement actually pose a threat to the hope of Burma’s activists—and others worldwide—for more democratic economic development.

John Dale deftly demonstrates how Free Burma activists built an unprecedented and sophisticated global movement to expose and change how democratic governments and multinational corporations supported Burma's military regime. This work is an invaluable case study on how people can not only support indigenous democracy movements but also establish civil society and human rights at the center of a new global order.

Simon Billenness, Amnesty International

When the military’s ruling party violently quashed Burma’s pro-democracy movement, diplomatic condemnation quickly followed—to little effect. But when Burma’s activists began linking the movement to others around the world, the result was dramatically different. This book is the first to explain how Burma’s pro-democracy movement became a transnational social movement for human rights.

Through the experience of the Free Burma movement, John G. Dale demonstrates how social movements create and appropriate legal mechanisms for generating new transnational political opportunities. He presents three corporate accountability campaigns waged by the Free Burma movement. The cases focus on the legislation of “Free Burma” laws in local governments throughout the United States; the effort to force the state of California to de-charter Unocal Oil Corporation for its flagrant abuse of human rights; and the first-ever use of the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act to sue a corporation in a U.S. court for human rights abuses committed abroad.

Dale’s work also raises the issue of how foreign policies of so-called constructive engagement actually pose a threat to the hope of Burma’s activists—and others worldwide—for more democratic economic development.

Free Burma

John G. Dale is assistant professor of sociology, affiliate faculty of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, and associate faculty of the Center for Global Studies at George Mason University. He is coauthor of Political Sociology: Power and Participation in the Modern World.

Free Burma

John Dale deftly demonstrates how Free Burma activists built an unprecedented and sophisticated global movement to expose and change how democratic governments and multinational corporations supported Burma's military regime. This work is an invaluable case study on how people can not only support indigenous democracy movements but also establish civil society and human rights at the center of a new global order.

Simon Billenness, Amnesty International

Provides a valuable lesson for any social movements operating in the globalized and integrated world.

Foreign Policy in Focus

Dale presents a convincing portrayal of the Free Burma movement as a creative force that in fighting
against human rights violations in Burma is successfully championing both democracy and corporate accountability.

American Journal of Sociology

This book is important reading for anyone interested in looking at the Free Burma movement and more broadly issues of transnational mobilization. Dale offers creative insight into how transnational relationships offer new opportunities and targets for social movement action. He also reminds readers that they have power to make change both at home and around the world.

Mobilization

Free Burma

Preface
Abbreviations
Introduction: Theorizing Transnational Legal Action
Part I. The Emergence and Transformation of Burma’s Democracy Movement
1. Burma’s Struggle for Democracy and Human Rights before 1988
2. Locating Power in the Free Burma Movement
Part II. Transnational Legal Action and Corporate Accountability in Three Types of
Campaigns
3. “Free Burma Laws”: Legislating Transnational Sanctions
4. Corporate “Death Penalty”: Executing Charter Revocation
5. Alien Tort Claims: Adjudicating Human Rights Abuses Abroad
Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?
Acknowledgments
Notes
Select Bibliography of Key Legal Documents
Index