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EarthRights International et al. vs. Daewoo

Case overview

Date filed 29 October 2008
Current status Rejected
Issue Daewoo & KOGAS' pipeline project in Burma
Summary of the case 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.

Developments/Outcome 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.

Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Forced evictions and resettlement, Human rights, Forced labour, Environment, Violent conflict, Multiple NCPs

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Korea
NCP address 1 Chungang-dong Gwacheon-si, Kyonggi-do , Korea, Republic of
NCP website http://www.mocie.go.kr/
Other NCPs involved

Complainants

NGO
Trade union

Company Information

Company responsible Daewoo International
Company address Namdaemun, Yonsei Severance Building, 84-11
100-753 Seoul
Korea, Republic of
Company website http://www.daewoo.com/english/index.jsp
Company in violation Daewoo International
Country of operations Myanmar
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Some developments are only visible to logged in users.
Date Actor Action Description Document
15 June 2009 Earthrights International report The report, intended to inform the Annual Meeting of NCPs, 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. download pdf (494Kb)  
23 December 2008 Earthrights International press release Complainants not confident that negative social and environmental abuses have been prevented download pdf (81Kb)  
27 November 2008 National Contact Point Korea reject The NCP rejected the complaint download pdf (2Kb)  
29 October 2008 Earthrights International file Complaint (English) download pdf (249Kb)  
29 October 2008 Earthrights International file Complaint (Korean) download pdf (394Kb)  

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