Fair Finance Watch / Inner City Press
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, September 11 — As the U.S. tries to tighten sanctions on Iran, including by pressuring insurance companies, it is not clear what is being about Myanmar. That nuclear concerns outweigh human rights is not surprising to many. At the UN on September 10, Inner City Press asked Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes what steps the U.S. is taking with insurance companies, and whether these steps might include the U.S. sanctions on the Myanmar military government of General Than Shwe. Glaser said professorially that “insurance is a financial service, and UN Security Council resolutions relate to financial services. It is important for the insurance sector to take into account all of the safeguards” in the Council’s resolutions.
Glaser’s boss Stuart Levey, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, has spoke about both maritime insurance and, months ago, about Myanmar. In March 2007, for example, Levey spoke in connection with blocking correspondent accounts under Section 311 of the Patriot Act with the ironically named Myanmar Mayflower Bank. Inner City Press’ question to Glaser on September 10 about Myanmar, however, went unanswered. Glaser said, “we and our partners have started a dialogue with the international insurance community to make sure that they are taking the steps that they need to take. It’s going to be important for insurance companies to be as vigilant as possible, particularly on maritime insurance and re-insurance.” On Myanmar, nothing.
Lloyd’s of London publicly admits to writing insurance on shipping and aviation in Myanmar. Its spokespeople say that the UK government have not initiated any discussions to curtail this business. That nuclear concerns trump human rights may not be surprising — but that doesn’t make it right.
At the UN’s symposium on supporting the victims of terrorism on September 9, Ingrid Betancourt, recented freed from the FARC in Colombia, said that the UN must more to free Aung San Soo Kyi in Myanmar. Inner City Press asked if she meant that Myanmar is engaged in state terrorism. Ms. Betancourt indicated that yes, Aung San Soo Kyi’s house arrests is not unlike her captivity in Colombia in being arbitrary.
So perhaps the distinction is not around terrorism, but nuclear proliferation…