The NSCWS complaint accuses Sjovik AS of undermining the Sahrawi peoples right to self-determination and thereby breaching the Human Rights chapter of the OECD Guidelines.
NSCWS alleges that two of Sjoviks African subsidiaries breached the OECD Guidelines by operating, leasing/operating a fish vessel and a fish processing plant in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara. The company is accused of failing to respect the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people, and failing to consult the Saharawi people in case of the exploitation of natural resources.
NSCWS urges the company to withdraw from West Sahara and to recognize the status of Western Sahara as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, in which the inhabitants of the territory have the right to self-determination over their natural resources.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
After receiving the complaint, the NCP met with Sjøvik, which argued that it possesses the necessary fishing licenses to justify its activities. The company also argued that its activities contribute to employment and development in the region and that it has several agreements with the Sahrawi people relating to fishing quotas and delivery to Sahrawi factories.
The NCP accepted the case in March 2012. Mediation was led by an independent mediator and supported by an external consultant, who provided guidance to the NCP and extra assistance to the complainant in order to balance out the inequality of negotiating power between the parties.
In June 2013, the parties published a joint statement that underlined the parties very diverging opinions. Specifically, NSCWS urged the fishing company to respect international law, while Sjøvik stressed it did not wish to take a position on the status of the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara in relation to Article 73 of the UN Charter.
Despite their diverging positions, the parties agreed upon a recommendation to the Norwegian government and steps Sjøvik would take in Norway, including carrying out risk and environmental and social impact assessments for its operations overall. Sjøviks due diligence reports were to take into account the status and vulnerability of Western Sahara. The company also agreed to establish and maintain an internal grievance mechanism that meets the requirements set out in the OECD Guidelines.
The NCPs final statement did not comment on the specific allegations, but it underscored that there is a heightened requirement for companies to conduct thorough human rights due diligence when operating in or from areas in conflict.
The NCP invited both parties to a follow-up meeting in May 2014, including submitting a follow-up report on the implementation of the joint statement beforehand.
The parties met in May 2014, but Sjøvik is refusing to disclose the due diligence it agreed to conduct, claiming it has no obligation to do so. NSCWS therefore have no way of knowing if the agreement they signed has been honoured by Sjøvik.