Human Rights Watch: The Burma Situation (A and B)
This two-part case deals with the events surrounding the monitoring by Human Rights Watch (HRW) of human rights violations targeting Rohingya Muslims in Burma in October 2012. The case focuses on HRW’s decision to publish a report of the situation and the impact of that report in Burma and abroad. While most human rights violation investigations are ‘business as usual’ for HRW, the situation presented in this case was different: the primary material for the investigation was satellite imagery, not the eyewitness reports typically used by HRW.
The case is designed to stimulate discussion of value creation by NGOs, the effect of technological development on NGO operations, and the development of new capabilities by NGOs. It also introduces students to human rights issues, a topic rarely discussed in business schools. Part A provides background to address questions concerning (1) whether or not HRW should report the violations and (2) how satellite imagery can provide sufficient evidence to raise awareness of a situation. Part B covers the impact of the report on the situation by looking at the response from the media, the United Nations, the United States, and the Government of Burma. The case also sheds light on the challenges faced by HRW in the fulfillment of its mission.
The case covers issues of value creation by NGOs and issues of ethics and global governance beyond NGOs. The case can be used to cover one or more of the following learning objectives:
Value creation by NGOs