The complaintants allege breaches of the OECD Guidelines by Daewoo International and the Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) related to the companies’ exploration, development, and operation of the Shwe natural gas project in military-ruled Burma. According to the complainants, human rights abuses such as forced relocation and violations of the right to freedom of expression are linked to the project. The companies have failed to disclose information to local communities about the project, and local people have not participated in any impact assessments, despite ongoing and imminent human rights and environmental impacts.
Offshore exploration has been ongoing since 2004, when Daewoo International first discovered commercially viable gas off the coast of Burma’s Arakan State. Construction of a transnational pipeline by a consortium of Daewoo, KOGAS, ONGC Videsh and GAIL is being planned to transport the Shwe gas to China, threatening severe and widespread human rights abuses, including forced relocation, forced labour and violence perpetrated against local communities by the Burmese Army, which will secure the project. The companies have failed to disclose information to local communities about the project, and local people have not participated in any impact assessments, despite ongoing and imminent human rights and environmental impacts.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Version 2000 Chapter II
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.1
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.2
- Version 2000 Chapter III
- Version 2000 Chapter III Paragraph III.1
- Version 2000 Chapter IV
- Version 2000 Chapter IV Paragraph IV.1 Subparagraph IV.1.C
- Version 2000 Chapter V
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.2
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.3
At the time of filing, the NCP met at length with the complainants and informally agreed to consider the complaint; however, on 27 November 2008, just 4 weeks after filing, the Korean NCP rejected the complaint on all counts. The NCP opined that the general situation in Burma and specifically around the Shwe Project does not merit an investigation or arbitration between the companies and the complainants, despite the fact that many groups and communities from within the proposed pipeline area in Burma believe that it does.
The complainants are concerned about the NCP’s conflict of interest given its location in the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy. Furthermore, the complainants are disappointed that the NCP did not clarify how the company’s performance on EIAs and stakeholder consultation is in line with the Guidelines. The Korean NCP’s summary dismissal of the case seems to contrast with other NCPs’ handling of Burma-related cases in which recommendations for appropriate corporate conduct were issued. The complainants published a report before the 2009 Annual Meeting of NCPs that documents substantive errors in the Korean NCP’s interpretations of the OECD Guidelines, and its failure to achieve functional equivalence with other NCPs. EarthRights International and the Shwe Gas Movement (SGM) request the Investment Committee to address the governance gap within the OECD Guidelines system.
- Company in violation
- Other companies involved
- Burma Action Korea
- Citizen’s Action Network
- Earthrights International
- Federations of Korean Trade Unions
- Human Rights Solidarity for New Society
- Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
- Korean House of International Solidarity
- People for Democracy in Burma
- The Association for Migrant Workers’ Human Rights
- Writers for Democracy in Burma
- Affected people
- Date rejected / concluded
- 27 November 2008