The Irish oil and gas exploration company San Leon Energy is under investigation by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in relation to its activities in Western Sahara, media announced.
The Global Legal Action Network (Glan), a non-governmental agency, made a formal complaint to the OECD about the company through its representative in Ireland in October 2018.
It alleged the company was not in compliance with OECD guidelines, specifically the principle of “meaningful engagement with stakeholders and the principle of respect for internationally recognized human rights.”
“San Leon’s activities in Western Sahara contribute to the maintenance of an illegal annexation and to the denial of the internationally recognised right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination in their territory,” said the group’s legal adviser, Valentina Azarova. “Companies like San Leon benefit from Morocco’s illicit economy in Western Sahara and contribute to the severity of ongoing human rights violations.”
“Our case is the first to argue that it is impossible to do business in Western Sahara in a manner that respects international law, including the OECD guidelines for multinational corporations, owing to Morocco’s control of the business environment,” said Gearóid Ó Cuinn, director of Glan.
The OECD representative has decided that there is “a prima facie case to proceed” on the basis of both the complaint and the response by the company that there are “significant differences in perspectives” between the complainant and the company.
They will formally ask the parties whether they are willing to engage in mediation with the aim of reaching a resolution. If a mediated solution is not possible, the OECD representative for Ireland will examine the case and produce a report, possibly with recommendations.