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August 25, 2017

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Economic Growth and Development in Lao PDR: Who Pays for Progress?

June 5, 2017

My latest piece on Laos is now available in the current issue of Human Rights Defender magazine - published by the Australian Human Rights Centre. The article is one of a series of papers that tackle the theme of 'Environmental justice and human rights in Asia'.


Introductory paragraphs are provided below. To access the full article, visit:;py=2017;vol=26;res=IELHSS;issn=1039-2637;iss=1



Economic Growth and Development in Lao PDR: Who Pays for Progress?


In many respects the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a development success story. Since 2006 the country’s average economic growth rate of 7.9 percent has made it one of the ten fastest growing economies in the world – and seen its income categorization rise from a low-income to a lower-middle income economy (World Bank 2011; CIA 2016) . During the past decade foreign direct investment has grown dramatically, gross national income has doubled and the official poverty rate has declined from 33.5 percent to around 23 percent (World Bank 2016). Economic growth has been accompanied by progress on many of the country’s former Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets, and in 2010 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) labelled Lao PDR as the sixth most successful country for improved human development in the past 40 years (UNDP 2010).


Unfortunately, however, Lao PDR is also governed by an authoritarian regime with a shameful human rights record – the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). Ranked by Freedom House (2016) as one of the world’s most politically repressive societies and by Transparency International (2015) as among the world’s thirty most corrupt countries, the LPRP maintains its leadership through a pervasive culture of fear that is reinforced through unlawful arrest, enforced disappearances, strict media controls and the repression of civil society. 


As such, economic growth and socio-economic advancement have come with heavy costs to both natural environments and basic political freedoms...


For more visit:;py=2017;vol=26;res=IELHSS;issn=1039-2637;iss=1






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