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Buckee had previously stated that “The only way to break the logjam [in Sudan] is through development.
.. Talisman’s presence there can only be for the good.”1184 But he offered no study or research of oil development in other third world countries establishing that oil investment had led to development and greater democracy.
Indeed, a World Bank study concludes that oil development conducted by unrepresentative or repressive governments does not lead to democracy, but actually hurts and impedes democratic development.1185 1183 J.W. Buckee, “Letter to Shareholders,” March 10, 1999.
1184 “Focus: Sudan rebels say Talisman oil wells legitimate target,” Reuters, Calgary, May 4, 1999.
1185 See Michael L. Ross, “Does Oil Hurt Democracy?” World Politics, April 2001 The study concluded that answer to the question posed by the title was “yes”: “First, the oil-impedes-democracy claim is both valid and statistically robust. Oil does greater damage to the cause of democracy in poor states than rich ones, and a given rise in oil exports will do more harm in oil-poor states than oil-rich ones.... The fourth finding is that there is at least a tentative support for three causal mechanisms that link oil and authoritarianism: a rentier effect,... ; a repression effect, by which governments build up their internal security forces; and a modernization effect, in which the failure of the population to move into industrial and service sector jobs renders them less likely to push for democracy.” Ibid., p. 31.
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Oil development also has tended to retard peace, and in some cases is a casus belli for insurgents. That is certainly the case in Sudan. In two other countries in Africa that have large petroleum reserves, Nigeria and Angola, the oil wealth has neither been used to improve conditions for the poor, nor has it contributed to progress towards democratic government.1186 At almost the same time as the Talisman annual meeting in Calgary, Canada, the Sudanese government was conducting an all-out assault on the civilian population it wanted to clear off the Talisman (GNPOC) concession, according to later articles in the Canadian press, food and security monitors, and human rights investigators. Between May 9 and 23, 1999, the government army launched an offensive on Dinka villages from the garrison in Pariang, moving to Tagil and then Gumriak (Block 1). From there it went to Padit and Biem (northern Block 5A) and elsewhere in Ruweng County, apparently with the main intention of driving the villagers off their land, according to civilian survivors. The Sudanese government used Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships—which may have taken off from the GNPOC airstrip at Heglig—followed by soldiers in tanks and armored personnel carriers backed by militia from garrisons at Liri in the Nuba Mountains and Pariang.1187 All this displacement and destruction occurred in Block 1 of the GNPOC (Talisman) concession while Talisman was active in the concession, and while its CEO was brushing off reports of human rights abuse and reassuring shareholders that there was no fighting and that Talisman was continually monitoring the situation. After the shareholder meeting in early May 1999, CEO Buckee wrote another letter to shareholders on Sudan, dated May 27, 1999. Without mentioning the May 9-23, 1999
government assault/displacement, he stated that:
1186 Human Rights Watch, The Price of Oil: Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Nigeria’s Oil Producing Communities; Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, “The International Monetary Fund’s Staff Monitoring Program for Angola: The Human Rights Implications,” (New York: Human Rights Watch, updated September 25, 2000); Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, “The Oil Diagnostic in Angola: A Update,” (New York: Human Rights Watch, March 2001); Human Rights Watch, The Niger Delta:
No Democratic Dividend (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 2002). All at www.hrw.org/corporations.
1187 See above, “Government Campaign of Forcible Displacement from Block 1, February-July 1999.”
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the oilfield development is at some distance from the areas of intermittent fighting, and.
.. the government is deeply committed to completion of the project and uninterrupted operations of the fields. Nonetheless, we monitor the situation continually, take prudent security measures and have contingency plans in place to cope with emergencies....
We also see headlines and reporting of ‘facts’ that can be misleading. Neither normal media activity nor comprehensive foreign government representation exists in the country.1188 The implication was that Talisman could ignore press investigations of human rights abuses in Sudan, because “normal media activity” did not exist in Sudan. But Canadian journalists among many others located and interviewed displaced persons within the GNPOC concession and those who fled the area.1189 Talisman was on notice, through the press, U.N., NGOs, and many other sources, of extensive human rights abuses and displacement in its concession and elsewhere. The burden was on Talisman, as a matter of corporate responsibility, to investigate these charges in a manner designed to establish, not dismiss or hide, the truth.
Talisman went forward with the Sudan project, announcing that the first flow of oil through the pipeline to Port Sudan took place on June 23, 1999.1190 Company officials projected that production was expected to start in late 1999 at a rate of 150,000 barrels a day (b/d).1191 The first crude oil was exported from Sudan, amid government celebrations, on August 30, 1999. Two weeks later, in the north, the pipeline was sabotaged by northern-based rebels.
1188 J.W. Buckee, letter to Talisman shareholders, Calgary, May 27, 1999.
1189 Press coverage of Biem internally displaced persons, i.e., Charlie Gillis, “Meeting the Victims of Sudan’s Oil Boom,” National Post (Toronto), Biem, Western Upper Nile, November 27, 1999; see “Oil-Related Events, Displacement, and Devastation by the Sudan Government in Blocks 1 and 4, 1999,” above.
1190 Talisman Energy press release, “Talisman – First Oil into Sudan Pipeline,” Calgary, July 6, 1999.
1191 Talisman Energy Background Paper, “Sudan – The Greater Nile Oil Project,” December 1998, p. 6.
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U.N. Expert Criticizes Oilfield Human Rights Abuses, October 1999 The report of U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Sudan Dr. Leonardo Franco to the General Assembly on October 14, 1999, noted that the May 1999 government assault on Ruweng County had caused many persons to become internally displaced. He reported that the offensive lasted ten days.1192 Jim Buckee, CEO of Talisman, denounced this report as “hearsay,” claiming that at least two of the facts were “wrong,” and promising an additional contribution to the rapporteur within two weeks.1193 Talisman never presented any evidence to counter Special Rapporteur Franco’s statements and in fact later endorsed the recommendations of an Amnesty International May 2000 report on oil and human rights in Sudan.1194 That report condemned forced displacement, mentioning the same raid detailed by Special Rapporteur Leonardo Franco.1195 Still, when asked, Talisman CEO Buckee continued to dispute the reports that government forces had attacked the area, attributing the bloodshed and displacement to local factional infighting from which the government had remained aloof. By his account, these were “two minor incidents,” that resulted from strife between factions protecting turf, while the Sudanese government kept its troops away.1196 But that was not what relief workers and journalists found, nor what victims of the offensive told visitors.
To complicate matters, the GNPOC concession was hit on October 15, 1999, by a coordinated rebel attack on Mobile Rig 15 by a disaffected Nuer commander, Peter Gatdet. He had been part of the 1192 “Report on the situation of human rights in the Sudan,” prepared for the General Assembly by Leonardo Franco, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, A/54/467, agenda item 117 (c), October 19, 1999.
1193 Steven Edwards, Claudia Cattaneo, and Sheldon Alberts, “Calgary Firm Tied to Sudan ‘Atrocities,’” National Post (Toronto), United Nations, Khartoum, and Ottawa, November 17, 1999.
1194 J.W. Buckee, president and CEO of Talisman, letter to Martin Hill, Acting Africa Program Director, Amnesty International, July 14, 2000, attached to letter, Reg Manhas to Human Rights Watch, September 13, 2000.
1195 Amnesty International, “Oil in Sudan – Deteriorating Human Rights,” London, AFR: 54/04/OO, May 3, 2000.
1196 Linda Slobodian, “No Profits for the Sudanese,” Calgary Sun, July 25, 1999.
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government militia protecting the oil concessions from early 1999 until early September 1999, when he switched sides and took many men and weapons with him. Two Sudanese workers were killed and one injured in the night-time attack when rebels opened fire on the rig, which was, as were all oil implacements, guarded by Sudanese army troops. Army reinforcements ran over a land mine in the road, killing three more. Talisman made no announcement of this attack, although it acknowledged the attack to Human Rights Watch and others.1197 Canadian Government Issues Policy Statement on Sudan, October 1999;
Talisman Signs Code of Conduct, December 1999 On October 26, 1999, the Canadian government set forth its Sudan policy in writing at a press conference held by Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Minister for International Cooperation Maria Minna, hinting at the possibility of Canadian sanctions against Talisman. Minister Axworthy first
Canadians want assurances that the operations of Canadian enterprises are not worsening the conflict or the human rights situation for the Sudanese people. I intend to discuss with [Talisman Energy] ways in which it could support a peaceful resolution of the conflict.1198 At the same time, the government issued a background paper entitled “Canada’s Sudan Policy.” It noted that the ownership of the oil was in dispute in the war, and that oil exploitation therefore might contribute to the civil conflict. “The question of allocation and distribution of oil resources and their benefits must be resolved quickly as oil is now being exported and revenue generated,” the Canadian
government paper stated. It presented its attitude toward Canadian companies operating in Sudan:
1197 See “Commander Gatdet’s Troops Attack Oil Areas and Oilrig in Block 1, October 1999,” above; Talisman officials, interview, February 3, 2000.
1198 Government of Canada press release, “Canada Announces Support to Sudan Peace Process,” Ottawa, October 26, 1999.
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Canada is committed to ensuring that private sector involvement in Sudan does not prolong the conflict in Sudan or fuel related human rights abuses. The private sector has an ethical responsibility to ensure their operations do no harm, but rather contribute to fostering a climate conducive to building a durable and just peace. Canada is therefore seeking assurances from both the Government of Sudan and Canadian oil sector interests (including Talisman Energy) that both international humanitarian and human rights laws are being upheld, and that oil extraction and export is not exacerbating the conflict in Sudan.1199 The foreign minister announced the appointment of two persons to monitor the situation in Sudan for the Canadian government. Senator Lois Wilson was to be Canada’s special envoy to the Sudan peace process and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). John Harker, a Canadian specialist in African issues and advisor to the government of Canada, was to lead a fact-finding mission to Sudan to examine human rights allegations.
Minister Axworthy also introduced other initiatives regarding Sudan: an invitation to the leaders of Sudan’s warring factions for talks in Canada to help end the conflict (which was declined and never took place); an offer of Canadian $ 300,000 to shore up the bureaucracy of the IGAD peace forum; and a meeting with Talisman within the week to discuss the firm’s responsibilities with regard to promoting peace, human rights, relief and development in Sudan.1200 As items for discussion, the government of
Canada set forth five demands to the company:
i) effectively implement the “International Code of Ethics for Canadian Business;”1201 1199 Backgrounder, “Canada’s Sudan Policy,” Ottawa, October 26, 1999, p. 5.
1200 David Ljunggren, “Canada threatens Talisman sanctions over Sudan,” Reuters, Ottawa, October 26, 1999.
1201 International Code of Ethics for Canadian Business, http://www.uottawa.ca/hrrec/busethics/codeint.html (accessed June 6, 2001). The code was developed by the private sector following two conferences with the foreign ministry. Canadian Department of
ii) publicly encourage Sudan to invite independent experts to investigate the human rights situation in the oil areas in Sudan, focusing on forced displacement allegations;
iii) initiate discussion with the government of Sudan and independent experts on verifiable ways in which oil export earnings can be reserved for humanitarian and development purposes and shared equitably by all regions of Sudan;
v) invite independent expert observers to participate in Talisman discussions with the Sudan government on the peace process and human rights.1203 “If it becomes evident that oil extraction is exacerbating the conflict in Sudan, or resulting in violations of human rights or humanitarian law,” Minister Axworthy warned, the government of Canada “may consider, if required, economic and trade restrictions” such as were authorized by the Export and Import Controls Act (EICA), the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA), or other instruments.1204 The Canadian government had already enacted arms sanctions on Sudan in 1992.