Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Complaint filed against POSCO for failure to carry out human rights due diligence

A coalition of Indian, South Korean, Dutch and Norwegian civil society organisations has filed complaints  with the South Korean, Dutch and Norwegian governments concerning POSCO’s behavior in India. According to the complainants POSCO has breached the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises because it has failed to seek to prevent human rights abuses and carry out comprehensive human rights and environmental studies for its proposed iron mine, steelworks plant and associated infrastructure in the state of Odisha, India

The complaints were filed with the Korean, Dutch and Norwegian National Contact Points (NCPs) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The complainants allege that POSCO’s efforts to construct a 12 million tons per annum integrated steelworks plant, captive power plant, captive port and other related infrastructure in the Jagatsinghpur District will lead to the physical and economic displacement of more than 20,000 of people, including individuals who have special legal protections under the Scheduled Tribes or Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Complainants maintain POSCO has failed to conduct comprehensive human rights and environmental due diligence and has not engaged in meaningful stakeholder consultation with all affected communities to identify the full scope and severity of human rights, social and environmental impacts. Complainants fear that POSCO’s failure to conduct due diligence will mean the company will be incapable of preventing or mitigating significant adverse impacts on thousands of people and the environment should its proposed project proceed.
The complainants also call on the Dutch pension fund ABP and the Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global to seek to prevent or mitigate the real and potential adverse impacts directly linked to their operations through their financial relationships with POSCO.

POSCO, the fourth largest steel manufacturer in the world, is a Global Compact participant. POSCO’s behavior in India is clearly not in line with the UN Global Compact’s Human Rights and Environment Principles, despite POSCO having committed to abide to these. In its recently published Human Rights Supplement to Communication on Progress Guidance, the Global Compact stresses that the commitments expressed in the Global Compact’s human rights principles correlate with the responsibility to respect human rights a defined in the UN Guiding Principles. It further states that the UN Guiding Principles “provide further conceptual and operational clarity for the two human rights principles championed by the Global Compact”. In line with the UN Guiding Principles, companies should carry out human rights due diligence processes to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their impacts on human rights, and engage in processes to enable the remediation of any adverse human rights impacts they cause or contribute to.

For developments in this case check the case database on the OECD Watch website.

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