In October 2002, a United Nations Panel of Experts accused 85 OECD-based companies of violating the Guidelines for their direct or indirect roles in the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Panel alleged that “elite networks” of political and military elites and businesspersons fueled the conflict in order to retain their control over the country’s vast natural resources. Complaints were filed against several UK companies who were operating in the DRC at the time investigated by the Panel.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Although the case was accepted as a specific instance, RAID was locked out of the process. In September 2004, the UK NCP issued a weak statement accepting Avient’s contention that it was working within a contractual arrangement with the officially recognized governments in the area. The NCP’s recommendations merely highlight the existence of a few provisions of the Guidelines, but did not declare breaches or offer specific actions a company is expected to take to remedy the breaches.
Following a September 2006 exposé in the UK’s Sunday Times, RAID called on the UK NCP to reopen the case. RAID had gathered extensive documentation to show that Avient was engaged in mercenary operations in the DRC, including bombing missions. However, given the gravity of the allegations against Avient, the NCP encouraged RAID to contact the UK Attorney General to investigate Avient for complicity in war crimes.
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