Canadian Sanctions Related to Myanmar
Technical assistance prohibition
- 2021-05-14 - Regulations were amended
- 2021-02-18 - Regulations were amended
- 2019-03-04 - Regulations were amended
Sanctions related to Myanmar were enacted under the Special Economic Measures Act to respond to the human rights and humanitarian situation in Myanmar. On December 13, 2007, the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations came into force.
The measures implemented by the Regulations, as amended, include:
- a freeze on assets in Canada of any designated Myanmar nationals connected with the Myanmar State, as well as prohibitions on several categories of transactions, services and dealings involving property of designated persons, wherever situated; and
- an arms embargo, including prohibitions on exporting and importing arms and related material to and from Myanmar, on communicating technical data related to military activities or arms and related material, and on financial services related to military activities or arms and related material.
The Regulations provide for certain exclusions to the above measures, including:
- some payments required under contracts entered into before a party was designated under the Regulations;
- dealings related to humanitarian or development assistance;
- dealings required to move financial assets away from designated persons; and
- certain protective or non-lethal military clothing and equipment when intended for use by media, humanitarian, human rights or other listed personnel.
Permits and Certificates
A separate Special Economic Measures (Burma) Permit Authorization Order (SOR/2007-286), made pursuant to subsection 4(4) of the Special Economic Measures Act, authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue to any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada a permit to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or any class of activity or transaction, that is restricted or prohibited pursuant to the Regulations.
On December 13, 2007, the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations came into force in order to respond to the gravity of the human rights and humanitarian situation in Myanmar, which threatened peace and security in the entire region.
Following seemingly positive developments in Myanmar in 2010, including progress towards democracy and improvements to the human rights situation, Canada eased its economic sanctions against Myanmar on April 24, 2012. Most prohibitions under the Special Economic Measures Act were suspended, including most of those pertaining to exports, imports, financial services and investment.
However, Canada maintained sanctions against certain listed individuals and entities, which are still in place today. A trade embargo on arms and related material, as well as on related technical and financial assistance, also remains in place.
Stemming from a spike in violence, including significant and widespread security and “clearing operations” by Myanmar’s armed forces (Tatmadaw), over 740,000 Rohingya refugees have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August 2017. This conflict has resulted in widespread and significant needs in both Myanmar and Bangladesh.
As a result of the crisis, in October 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed the Honourable Bob Rae as Special Envoy to Myanmar. In April 2018, Mr. Rae submitted his final report outlining 17 recommendations for Canadian action. In May 2018, the Government of Canada released Canada’s Strategy to respond to the Rohingya Crisis, informed by Mr. Rae’s report. Both Mr. Rae’s final report and Canada’s Strategy recognized the need for Canada to enhance the effectiveness of targeted sanctions to continue to work to identify senior military officials in Myanmar with the aim of imposing sanctions for their role in the security operations against the Rohingya.
On June 25, 2018, the Regulations were amended to add seven (7) individuals to the Schedule in the Regulations. These individuals are all senior officials in Myanmar’s military who occupied positions of authority during the military operations against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, leading to a humanitarian and security crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
On February 18, 2021, in response to the coup d’état in Myanmar perpetrated against the democratically-elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government on February 1, 2021, the Regulations were amended to add nine (9) individuals to the Schedule in the Regulations. These individuals are all senior officials in Myanmar’s military, were either directly involved in the coup as part of the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC), or are members of the military regime’s new governing body, the State Administration Council. These actions were taken in coordination with the United Kingdom, and align with actions taken by the United States on February 11, 2021.
In the subsequent months following the coup, the Tatmadaw engaged in a brutal repression campaign against its own people, at the hand of which over 750 people were killed and more than 3000 have been detained. The Tatmadaw has failed to engage in good-faith dialogue through diplomatic means, has not committed to implement the ASEAN five-points consensus, and has refused to collaborate with the UN Special Envoy and other UN bodies. Despite continuous calls from the international community for the Tatmadaw to end the violence and repression in Myanmar, it has shown no sign that it is willing to change its behaviour, reverse course, and restore democracy under civilian rule.
On May 14, 2021, in response to the Tatmadaw’s continued violence and repression against the people of Myanmar, their refusal to take steps to restore democracy, and intransigence to date, sixteen (16) individuals and ten (10) entities were added to the Schedule in the Regulations, targeting key senior military and military-appointed officials, family members of designated officials, and affiliated commercial entities. This announcement was made in coordination with the United Kingdom and the United States, and aligned with actions taken by the European Union on April 19, 2021. Canada continues to review the need for further sanctions as appropriate.
Regulations and Orders made under the Special Economic Measures Act:
- Justice Canada consolidation of the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations
- 2021-05-14 (Entered into force) - Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations (SOR/2021-106)
- 2021-02-18 (Entered into force) - Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations (SOR/2021-18)
- 2019-03-04 (Entered into force) - Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Special Economic Measures Act (SOR/2019-61)
- 2018-06-25 (Entered into force) - Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations (SOR/2018-135)
- 2012-04-24 (Entered into force) - Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations (SOR/2012-85)
- 2007-12-13 (Entered into force) - Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations (SOR/2007-285) (PDF version, 4.8 MB, see page 2611 of the linked document)
- 2007-12-13 (Entered into force) - Special Economic Measures (Burma) Permit Authorization Order (SOR/2007-286) (PDF version, 4.8 MB, see page 2622 of the linked document)
Announcements related to the Regulations made under the Special Economic Measures Act:
- 2021-05-17 - News release - Canada imposes additional sanctions on individuals and entities affiliated with Armed Forces of Myanmar
- 2021-05-17 - Backgrounder - Additional Myanmar sanctions
- 2021-02-18 - News release - Canada imposes sanctions on Myanmar military officials in response to coup d’état
- 2021-02-18 - Backgrounder - Myanmar sanctions
- 2018-06-25 - News release - Canada imposes further sanctions in response to ongoing crisis in Myanmar
- 2018-06-25 - Backgrounder - Myanmar sanctions
- 2012-04-24 - News release - Canada Suspends Sanctions Against Burma, Helps the Country Build a Brighter Future
- Export and Import Controls
- Canada-Myanmar Relations
- Global Affairs Canada advisory on doing business with Myanmar-related entities
Please be advised that Global Affairs Canada cannot provide legal advice to members of the public. For this reason, we cannot deliver an opinion as to whether or not a specific activity or transaction would contravene sanctions legislation. You should consider seeking legal advice in relation to an activity that may contravene a Canadian sanction law.
- Date Modified: