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Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara vs Sjovik

Case overview

Date filed 5 December 2011
Current status Agreement
Issue Sjovik’s breaches of human rights in Western Sahara
Summary of the case The NSCWS complaint accuses Sjøvik of undermining the Sahrawi peoples right to self-determination and thereby the Guidelines Human Rights chapter.

NSCWS alleges that two of Sjøviks African subsidiaries have breached the Guidelines by leasing and operating a fish vessel and a fish processing plant in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara.

The complainants accuse Sjøvik of failing to respect the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and failing to consult with them about its exploitation of natural resources.

NSCWS urges the company to withdraw from Western Sahara and to recognise the status of the region as a NonSelf-Governing Territory in accordance with Article 73 of the UN Charter, in which the inhabitants of the territory have the right to self-determination over their natural resources.
Developments/Outcome 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.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Human rights

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Norway
NCP address P.O. Box 8114 DEP N-0032 Oslo, Norway
NCP website http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/ud/tema/norgesfremme-og-kultursamarbeid.html?id=434499
Other NCPs involved

Complainant

NGO

Company Information

Company responsible Sjovik AS
Company address Strandgata 60
N-65 12 Kristiansund
Norway
Company website
Company in violation Sjovik AS
Country of operations Western Sahara
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
3 July 2013 National Contact Point Norway statement Norwegian NCP issues final statement download pdf (885Kb)  
1 March 2012 National Contact Point Norway accept Norwegian NCP accepts complaint against Sjovik download pdf (592Kb)  
5 December 2011 Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara file Case filed at Norwegian NCP download pdf (49Kb)  

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