Human Rights organisation says it has already uncovered the involvement of UK insurers in Burma

This week provided a small victory for a leading human rights organization campaigning against abuses taking place in Burma.

After years of languishing on The Burma Campaign’s Dirty List – a list that exposes foreign and UK companies that prop up the military regime by doing business in the country – Willis has said it’s pulling out of Burma.

The broker, that provides reinsurance renewal placement services principally on marine hull and cargo business for an insurance client in Burma, said it is working diligently to conclude its activities in the country by 30 April.

The decision was applauded by the Burma Campaign that has worked tirelessly to get more companies off its Dirty List.

But the real work may just be starting for the Burma Campaign when it comes to getting insurers to end their involvement in the conflict-ridden country.

According to the organization, insurers have been notoriously secretive and tight-lipped about what kind of business they do in Burma.

It’s been so difficult to get a handle on the extent of British insurers’ involvement in the country, that the Burma Campaign has started up an investigations panel comprised of market insiders and academics to expose the insurance industry.

And, according to campaign officer Johnny Chatterton, the panel has already had some success.

He said: “The panel is composed of industry insiders and academics, they are giving us invaluable advise on our campaign to expose how UK based insurers are propping up the Burmese junta.”

Chatterton said they have already uncovered activity by insurers they hadn’t known about prior to the panel.

After an insurer is exposed for conducting business in Burma, the next step is for the Burma Campaign to sit down with the company and explain the negative impact their involvement is directly or inadvertently having on the lives of people.

Chatterton said the organisation always give an insurer the chance to respond and then the opportunity to pull out of Burma before they are placed on the Dirty List.

In the past, several UK insurance firms have been connected to Burma, including Aon and at least one Lloyd’s syndicate. Aon has since ended its involvement.

For those UK insurers still operating in Burma, it’s unlikely their activities will stay quiet for long.

Chatterton’s message is clear: “We are not going anywhere.”