Who maintains sanctions on Burma?


Burma's military rulers are accused of rights abuses ranging from ethnic cleansing to conscription of child soldiers. The UN has imposed no sanctions, but other nations and blocs have taken their own measures.

European Union

In 1996, the EU adopted a Common Position on Burma which included a ban on the sale or transfer of arms and weapons expertise to the country, visa restrictions on members of the military regime and their families and allies, and a freeze on officials' overseas assets.

It also suspended all bilateral aid other than humanitarian assistance.

The sanctions were extended after troops violently suppressed anti-government protests in 2007 to include a ban on imports of gems, timbers and metals. But critics say no monitoring mechanism was put in place to enforce the ban.

They were further tightened in August 2009 when pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest was extended.

In April 2010, the EU once again renewed the sanctions in a Council Decision.

United States

The US imposed an arms embargo on Burma in 1993 and then widened its sanctions four years later with an executive order to include all new investment.

However, existing investment - including a gas project partially run by Unocal (now Chevron) - was exempted.

In 2003, the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act banned imports from the country, but teak and gems - two of Burma's major exports - that had been processed in a third country were allowed. The act also restricted financial transactions, froze the assets of some financial institutions and extended visa restrictions on officials.

The Tom Lantos Block Burmese Jade Act of 2008 imposed a specific ban on jadeite and rubies mined in Burma, and on jewellery containing either of these precious stones.

US President Barack Obama renewed existing sanctions against Burma in May 2010.


Canada imposed sanctions on Burma in 2007 with its Special Economic Measures Act, banning all imports and exports, apart from humanitarian goods. The assets of Burmese citizens connected to the junta were frozen. Canada also outlawed the provision of financial services and technical data to Burma.


Japan cut aid to Burma in October 2007 following the death of a Japanese journalist covering the mass protests led by monks in September.

Japanese aid resumed following Cyclone Nargis in May 2008.

South East Asian grouping Asean - of which Burma is a member - has opposed the use of sanctions.

Australia has maintained visa restrictions on senior Burmese military figures and a ban on defence exports since 1988.

New Zealand has a long-standing ban on visas for military leaders and their families.