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In the 2003 session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, the Sudanese government finally attained its goal of blocking any resolution on human rights in Sudan, by a vote of 24-26-3: twenty-four in favor of a resolution, twenty-six opposed, and abstentions. All E.U. members of the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights voted in favor of the resolution, which the E.U. drafted. Uganda abstained; in 2002 Uganda voted in favor of the resolution. All the other African members of the U.N.
Commission on Human Rights voted against the resolution, led by South Africa.1602 The mandate of the special rapporteur for human rights in Sudan, which had lasted ten years, was defeated by two votes— and the war was not over, nor had human rights conditions improved.
1602 U.N. press release, “Commission On Human Rights Adopts Measures On Situations In North Korea, Turkmenistan, Myanmar;
Member States Reject Draft Resolution on Situation in the Sudan,” Geneva, April 16, 2003; U.N. Commission on Human Rights draft resolution E/CN.4/2003/L.35, on human rights in the Sudan, was rejected.
http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/2/59chr/voting16pm.htm (accessed August 14, 2003).
Human Rights Watch believes that corporations may become complicit in human rights violations where their activities facilitate or exacerbate human rights violations, or where they benefit from past or ongoing violations.
Complicity occurs in several cases. First, when corporations benefit from the failure of government to enforce human rights standards. Second, when corporations are involved in systematic violations of rights and the state, aware of such violations, and fail to meet its obligations under international human rights law; this constitutes human rights abuse by state omission and corporate commission. Third, when a corporation facilitates or participates in government human rights violations. Facilitation includes the company's provision of material or financial support for governmental forces which then commit human rights violations.
In some rare cases, companies cannot avoid the taint of complicity in human rights violations: their activities are inextricably intertwined with the abuses, the abuses are gross, the corporate presence either facilitates or continues to benefit from violations, and no remedial measure exists to mitigate those abuses. This amounts to inappropriate corporate presence, meaning that a corporation should not operate in a particular area because of its unavoidable, negative impact on human rights.
Based on the facts and law set forth above, Human Rights Watch concludes that the participation of international oil companies in two Sudanese oil concessions, Blocks 1,2, 4, and Block 5A, amounts to inappropriate corporate presence.
There are grave and systematic human rights violations taking place within Sudan, particularly with regard to the conduct of the war in the oil-producing regions and elsewhere, that the government of
Sudan has been unable or unwilling to address and to date have not been susceptible to remedy through the ordinary mechanisms of the state’s legal system nor through international mechanisms; and no form of pressure from the international community has had any reasonable prospect of having a significant effect in reducing or mitigating the abuses.
In Sudan, the deliberate, forcible displacement, without notice or compensation, of tens and even hundreds of thousands of civilians from the southern oil regions in Western Upper Nile/Unity State has occurred during several periods since the discovery of oil in the south, and is still occurring. The means are military, used by government army or government-armed militias against civilian populations in the context of a war that has been going on for almost twenty years. The oilfields have become the “main conflict area” in Sudan, according to the U.N.1603 The government’s military campaign in the oil producing regions was specifically designed to clear the civilian population out of the area to facilitate oil production. In this regard, the oil companies clearly benefited from grave and systematic abuses by the state—without such a vicious displacement campaign, the companies would not be able to operate, or so the government seemed to believe. The government chose to depopulate the areas rather than reach and keep peace agreements or other arrangements with those who lived in and had a historical claim on the land.
Contrast the treatment that southern Sudanese agro-pastoralists living in oil areas received to the treatment that GNPOC and the government provided for northern Sudanese living along the pipeline.
The latter had the benefit of an environmental assessment (including the human environment) and compensation in cash, for instance, when they were moved to a safe (two kilometers) distance from the pipeline. Whether or not these payments were adequate, they did at least constitute an attempt to mitigate the possible adverse effects of oil development. Southerners, as described above and in many other reports on the subject, received no environmental assessment and no compensation. Instead, they were moved by military force off their land, their houses and communities were destroyed, their grain 1603 U.N. Consolidated Appeal 2001, p. 11
and livestock stolen, and some family members lost, killed, or injured. They had to find food and shelter as best they could, while still under military threat. Not only did the government and the oil companies fail to compensate them, they provided no emergency assistance (except for a token amount of aid Talisman provided in August 2000), and the government actively prevented relief agencies from reaching those displaced in the oilfields on countless occasions.
Sudanese pastoralists are not so very different from Canadians, Swedes, Austrians, or other people who live in countries where the oil companies have their headquarters. They want the peaceful enjoyment of their homes. If they are to be taken away from their homes in the name of “development,” they want to have some say in it, and at a minimum they deserve fair (not violent) treatment, a just process to determine the need for their displacement, and adequate compensation for their losses. Canadians, Swedes, and Austrians would not be impressed by the treatment the southern Sudanese have instead received at the Sudanese government’s and the oil companies’ hands. They would not think that a few water wells, a clinic, and relief handouts were an adequate compensation for having their livelihood and homes destroyed and their families subjected to attack, injured, perhaps killed, dispersed, and forced to live in intolerably substandard conditions exposed to life-threatening epidemics for an indefinite period of time, deprived of the opportunity to return to self-sustaining life.
The oil companies have claimed to be ignorant of facts that are readily apparent to those who want to see. The oil companies acquiesced in the government’s mistreatment of its citizens, while claiming that “development” would promote peace—a claim for which they offered absolutely no evidence, and which has in no way been borne out by the progress of the war in Sudan.
Oil development also has tended to retard peace and in some cases is a causus belli for insurgents. That is certainly the case in Sudan. In two other countries in Africa that have large 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.1604 The means by which the Sudanese government chose to protect the oil companies were draconian and arbitrary: it expelled rural people from their land and livelihood, killed their family members, and robbed and burned their property, because these people lived in areas where oil was found—and were presumed on grounds of their ethnic origin to be opposed to the government of Sudan exploiting that oil. Those it did not expel on the first or second wave were left economically insecure and terrified of another raid.
The government not only failed to compensate and provide adequate substitute shelter for the displaced, it actively hindered agencies that tried to reach the displaced with emergency relief.
The oil operations, on-line since August 1999, have introduced a new source of revenue to a very abusive government, enabling it to increase its expenditures for military and security operations during which egregious rights violations continue to be committed.. After receiving this new income, the government escalated the level of warfare in the south, the Nuba Mountains, and the east, illustrated by the more frequent use of helicopter gunships and increased aerial bombing hitting civilians and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, relief centers, churches, and schools. The government admitted that it was spending its oil income to build its own arms and munitions factories, and its own budget figures showed that it was spending a substantial chunk of its oil income on defense.
Indeed, the flow of oil may still work as a disincentive to peace, depending on the outcome of pending peace talks. The issues of power sharing and revenue or resource sharing for the six-and-a-half-year interim period between the signing of a peace agreement and the self-determination referendum 1604 Human Rights Watch, The Price of Oil: Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Nigeria’s Oil Producing Communities (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999); Human Rights Watch, The Niger Delta: No Democratic Dividend (Human Rights Watch: New York, October 2002); Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, “The International Monetary Fund’s Staff Monitoring Program for Angola: The Human Rights Implications” (New York: Human Rights Watch, September, 2000), and Backgrounder, “The Oil Diagnostic in Angola: An Update” (New York: Human Rights Watch, March 2001), www.hrw.org/corporations.
remained outstanding issues in the peace negotiations sponsored by IGAD as of the writing of this report.
The oil companies constructed transportation infrastructure such as airstrips and all-weather roads, which served to extend government control. These facilities were nonexistent in these areas before. The government provided “protection” to these oil operations, and used oil company infrastructure and transport vehicles, including occasionally company helicopters, to ferry army officers and others around.
The roads brought closer to the oil operation areas villages which previously were too remote to be of interest to the various warring parties or to threaten oil installations by their presence. The roads in turn enabled the government to conduct attacks on the villages in vehicles; whereas before soldiers would have had to advance on foot, at much greater danger from rebels. The government used the consortiums’ airstrips, particularly the long runway at Heglig, as military staging points to conduct war on the southern oilfields and beyond. Although Talisman said that it asked the government not to make offensive military use of the airstrip, by Talisman’s own admission the government used the airstrip for military offensives at least four times in the year 2000. Thus, the airfield and road infrastructure required, justified, and facilitated an ever-expanding area of displacement and discriminate military attacks against civilians.
The completion of the pipeline through Blocks 1 and 2 to the Red Sea led inexorably to the extension of the program of forced displacement into Block 5A, which had been overlooked in the conflict until then.
The pipeline, designed with excess capacity to carry anticipated production from Block 5A and other concessions in the area, spurred oil activity in Block 5A and indeed was the reason for the economic feasibility of Block 5A.
In turn, the local rebel forces tried to resist the government’s control of the area, leading the government to move in with massive army and militia force, displacing as they went. In 1999 the government established its toehold: two new military bases in Block 5A to guard the oil, one at the well site, Ryer/Thar Jath, and another in Ler, the largest settlement in Block 5A. Since then military posts have proliferated. Oil development extended the geographical area of conflict, enmeshing pastoralists who had previously not been directly affected by the civil war.
524Conclusions and Recommendations
None of the companies operating in Sudan has taken adequate steps to prevent or stop abuses from taking place. The human rights abuses continue, and even worsened from 1999 to 2003 according to the U.N. special rapporteur on Sudan’s report to the April 2003 session of the of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Tens of thousands of people were displaced from wider and wider areas around oilfields in the GNPOC and Lundin concessions (Blocks 1, 2 and 4 and Block 5A) during that time period. Far from preventing this mass forced displacement from taking place after they commenced operations in 1999, the oil companies denied any forced uncompensated displacement was taking place, while taking few steps to establish the truth. Nor have oil companies protested the bombing (with one belated private exception), the continued suspension of the constitution, the denial of free assembly and movement rights, and the blockade of humanitarian relief to civilians displaced from oilfields, some few of Sudan’s many human rights violations.
GNPOC and its non-Sudanese members, Talisman Energy, Petronas Carigali, and the China National Petroleum Company; and Lundin, OMV, and Petronas Carigali; operating respectivel in Blocks 1, 2 and 4 and in Block 5A throughout most of the period covered by this report, are not able to avoid complicity in these abuses. They cannot reliably ensure that they and their operations, individually or jointly, do not facilitate or benefit from human rights abuses. Indeed, they operate in the midst of the abuses, arguing that their presence alone, and small-scale development assistance, constitutes responsible corporate behaviour.
For these reasons, Human Rights Watch concludes that the companies are inappropriately operating in Sudan and should suspend their operations unless and until the steps recommended below are taken by both the companies and the government of Sudan.