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Talisman Annual Meeting, May 2000 Talisman held its annual meeting on May 3, 2000. According to the press, CEO Jim Buckee faced a “barrage of accusations” that the Sudan project was fueling the civil war in that country. People lined up at the microphones to protest, and the meeting lasted more than three hours.1248 At that meeting, unlike the one in 1999, a shareholder initiative was permitted on the ballot. The shareholder proposal sought an independent audited report on Talisman’s compliance with the 1246 Steven Chase, “War and Profit: Talisman plays with fire in Sudan,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), Calgary, October 9, 1999.
1247 Claudia Cattaneo, “Lingering ‘Sudan effect’ likely to tarnish Talisman,” Financial Post (Toronto), Calgary, February 24, 2000.
1248 Jeffrey Jones, “Talisman CEO faces sharp criticism...,” May 3, 2000.
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International Code of Ethics for Canadian Business to be completed within 180 days. An alternative resolution sponsored by the company’s management passed instead. It committed the company to conduct an in-house, but independently audited, report on its compliance with the Code, to be completed in one year.1249 An Amnesty International report on oil and human rights in Sudan was issued in May 2000, criticizing mass displacement from the oilfields by the government.1250 It helped fuel the discussion and protests at the annual meeting.1251 Among other things, Amnesty International recommended that Talisman “raise with the Government of Sudan the conditions for the return of civilians forcibly displaced from their homes in Western Upper Nile and Unity States.”1252 The report also found significant government efforts
to force citizens off the land:
Tens of thousands of people have been terrorized into leaving their homes in Western Upper Nile since early 1999. Government forces have used ground attacks, helicopter gunship and indiscriminate high-altitude bombardment to clear the local population from oil-rich areas.1253 In July 2000 Talisman endorsed Amnesty’s recommendations to Talisman and said that it agreed to raise the displacement issue with the Sudanese government. Any activities along this line—unless they were included in a vague statement that the company had advocated the “protection of civilians in conflict zones”—were however omitted from a letter from Talisman to Human Rights Watch of September 1249 Eoin Kenny, “Investors curse Calgary oil giant’s involvement in wartorn Sudan,” Canadian Press Newswire, May 4, 2000.
1250 Amnesty International, “Oil in Sudan – Deteriorating Human Rights,” AFR/54/01/00, London, May 3, 2000, p. 5. This report was also based on interviews of the displaced.
1251 Jeffrey Jones, “Talisman CEO faces sharp criticism at annual meeting,” Reuters, Calgary, May 3, 2000.
1252 J.W. Buckee, letter to Martin Hill, Amnesty International, July 14, 2000.
1253 Amnesty International, “Oil in Sudan – Deteriorating Human Rights.”
2000.1254 And Amnesty International, in a follow-up press release in May 2001, a year after its report, said that Talisman had failed to live up to its commitments.1255 Talisman Meets the Sudan Government; GNPOC Signs Code of Ethics, December 2000 With regard to the Khartoum government, Talisman said in correspondence with Human Rights Watch that CEO Jim Buckee and Legal Officer and Vice President Jackie Sheppard met with Sudan’s foreign minister and the minister of the interior in May 2000. During these meetings, the Talisman officials said, they advocated respect for human rights and the protection of civilians in conflict zones. Beforehand, CEO Buckee had met with Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, whose hospital in southern Sudan had been bombed at least four times in March 2000. Graham asked Buckee to advocate the cessation of the bombing of civilian targets. CEO Buckee said he “personally raised this issue directly with each of the Ministers.”1256 However, according to charts conservatively compiled of bombing of civilian targets in the south, the government’s heavy bombing of civilian structures continued after this interview.1257 In the face of continuing pressure, Talisman began to argue that its influence was limited because it owned only 25 percent of GNPOC—despite the fact that it was effectively lead partner and in charge of operations on the ground.1258 Talisman pleaded that it could only push human rights so far with the consortium, as Petronas (30 percent) and CNPC (40 percent) could outvote it.1259 1254 Reg Manhas, letter to Human Rights Watch, September 13, 2000.
1255 Amnesty Internatinal press release, “Sudan: Talisman must do more to protect human rights,” London, May 1, 2001.
1256 Reg Manhas, letter to Human Rights Watch, September 13, 2000.
1257 See Appendix A.
1258 Arakis had been lead partner in GNPOC and Talisman bought out Arakis. Later Talisman publications did not designate any company as “lead” but stated the key management positions within GNPOC were occupied by representatives of each consortium
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Talisman pointed to a number of initiatives it had undertaken to sensitize GNPOC and its partners, Sudapet, CNPC, and Petronas, to human rights. Talisman claimed to be the first Canadian resource company to embrace the concept of establishing a comprehensive management program and system to ensure compliance with the International Code of Ethics for Canadian Business. “Only companies such as Shell and BP have approached these issues as comprehensively,” the Talisman letter stated.1260 Also during their trip to Khartoum in May 2000, Buckee and Sheppard met with senior ministry of energy officials reportedly to advocate the adoption by GNPOC of a code of conduct and to emphasize the need for respect for human rights in Sudan. They also reported that they met the president of CNPC in Beijing and the president of Petronas in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to advocate the same things.1261 Talisman said that two of its officers were asked to participate in a retreat held in June 2000 by Petronas executives in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur to discuss ethical code of conduct issues at an internal Petronas meeting, which Talisman believed was sparked in part by its advocacy efforts regarding the GNPOC code.1262 But up to the writing of this report, Petronas has still not adopted any code of conduct.1263 In December 2000 GNPOC adopted a Code of Ethics,1264 but this code was even more limited than the Canadian code adopted by Talisman. It mentioned human rights once, in the context of a commitment member, and that decisions made by committees within GNPOC required an affirmative vote of at least two consortium members holding at least 60 percent interest. Talisman Energy, Corporate Social Responsibilty Report 2001, p.13.
1259 Reg Manhas, Talisman corporate responsibility representative, presentation at Tufts conference, July 2000, and at CSIS, November 2000; Talisman Energy, Corporate Responsibility Report 2001, p. 17.
1260 Reg Manhas, letter to Human Rights Watch, September 13, 2000.
1263 See http://www.petronas.com.
1264 Reg Manhas, letter to Human Rights Watch, attached unsigned code, October 20, 2000; Talisman, Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2001, p.12.
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to: “Conducting business in a way that shall maintain social justice and respect human rights within the sphere of our responsibility and contractual obligations.”1265 What this responsibility and contractual obligations might be were left completely undefined.
Importantly, the code stated that GNPOC would observe the principle of “[r]efraining from availing the company resources for political, tribal and armed conflicts.”1266 Yet the code bound only GNPOC, and did not keep Petronas, CNPC, or Sudapet from engaging in whatever conduct they wanted, as individual companies.
The Talisman Corporate Social Responsibility Report for 2001 said that a certificate of compliance was developed in 2001 to monitor GNPOC business activities and test conformance with the code. The certificate of compliance was adopted in January 2002.1267 Talisman Human Rights Monitoring Talisman solicited the response of some human rights organizations to its proposals to improve its response to human rights issues, but it did not attempt to bring back into the picture the four Canadian NGOs with whom it had been in negotiation prior to February 14, 2000, about the creation of an independent monitoring organization.
In Talisman’s proposed community development budget for 2001, dated September 2000, the program listed only two items under human rights, which totalled Canadian $ 37,050 (or 4.84 percent of the total of “funds approved”). First were funds for one Talisman staff member and four GNPOC officials to 1265 Letter, Reg Manhas to Human Rights Watch, attached unsigned code, October 20, 2000, emphasis added.
1267 Reg Manhas, letter to Human Rights Watch, attached unsigned code, October 20, 2000; Talisman Energy, Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2001, p.12.
attend a ten-day training program in Nova Scotia, Canada, at the Lester B. Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (Canadian $ 15,000) in August 2000.1268 The second expense item was “development of a database to track and report on Conflict Resolution activities and agencies related to the Sudan conflict,” under an agreement signed in October 2000 with the Sudanese government’s agency for the internally displaced, Humanitarian Aid Coordination (HAC) (Canadian $ 22,050).1269 Some Sudanese and others were concerned that, depending on who is in charge of the database, it could be misused for military purposes.
Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2000, Sudan (April 2001) Talisman issued its Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2000, Sudan Operations (CSRR 2000), in April 2001.
Talisman also commissioned satellite photos of selected locations inside the GNPOC concession, and an expert analysis of them which was released in April 2001 and shown at the annual meeting on May 1, 2001 (see below). An audit of certain statements in this CSRR 2000 was done by PricewaterhouseCoopers, London.1270 In this report, Talisman presented the results of some aspects of its in-house human rights monitoring program. The program had a field coordinator who oversaw the program “in conjunction with security staff.”1271 It was not clear if the security staff referred to government internal security, GNPOC security, Talisman security, or all three. Regardless, it was not likely that the presence of any such overseers would encourage any victim of government abuses to report those abuses to the Talisman human rights monitoring program.
1268 Reg Manhas, letter to Human Rights Watch, September 13, 2000.
1269 Humanitarian Agency Coordination Conflict Resolution Database; Talisman (Greater Nile) B.V., “Community Development Strategy – 2001,” undated, appendix (updated October 30, 2000).
1270 Talisman Energy, Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2000, Pricewaterhouse Coopers audit (March 6, 2001), pp. 11-42.
1271 Ibid., p. 18.
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The 2000 corporate responsibility report described investigations of only seven cases. Predictably, they concerned employment disputes: allegations of physical violence against workers, verbal abuse, dismissal from work, etc. One case was closed by the end of 2000. Ten additional cases had been opened in November 2000 “to keep files of initial interviews with people who have been displaced.” These were not individual human rights cases, that is, interviews with individuals willing to make a claim of violation of human rights. They were information-gathering cases designed to “help [Talisman] build our understanding of human rights issues related to the GNPOC operational area.”1272 Compensation Payments (Pipeline Only) The Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2000 indicated that Talisman paid compensation to some populations displaced by its operations. However, it is not clear if compensation payments were made only to those living along the GNPOC pipeline in the north, or if they included those displaced within the south of Sudan.1273 The government set up a Pipeline Compensation Committee to make assessments and payments to those living along the pipeline whose land use was affected. GNPOC was funding the Pipeline Compensation Committee to the tune of U.S. $ 1,841,946 and estimated total compensation would be paid in the range of up to U.S. $ 2,500,000.1274 The Talisman corporate responsibility report for 2000 highlighted that the village of El Munawara, located about 200 kilometers south of Khartoum, i.e., well within the north, was moved about two kilometers from its prevous location “to provide a safe distance between the villagers and the oil operations.” Each of the 159 families in the village was compensated in cash, ranging from U.S. $ 290 to 1272 Ibid.
1273 The Corporate Responsibility Report 2000 says, “In the concession area, GNPOC has compensated people affected by GNPOC operations, such as the drilling of wells and seismic exploration activity. However, the process of identifying people affected by such activity and the provision of fair compensation has not been well documented.” Ibid., p. 17.
$ 870. Under review were compensation claims from others who grazed their animals around Pump Station #3, facilitated by representatives from the Sudan Ministry of Energy and Mining.1275 In the south, by contrast, no compensation was paid, even though tens of thousands were displaced (some quite recently, as in the Gumriak area of Block 1). No compensation committee was ever set up for those in Blocks 1, 2, and 4 whose land use was affected. The government took what it wanted by military
force, without compensation. Talisman wrote to Human Rights Watch on September 13, 2000 that: