Korean firms shake off Burma allegationsMay 2009
Two large Korean companies have been cleared of breaching the OECD guidelines for multinationals by becoming involved in a natural gas project in military-ruled Burma.
Daewoo International and the Korea Gas Corporation (Kogas) were reported to the Korean government’s national contact point (NCP) over allegations that their involvement in the exploration, development and operation of the Shwe project was leading to human rights abuses, including forced relocation and restrictions on freedom of expression.
The NCP, which investigates alleged guideline breaches in Korea, has rejected the complaint on all counts and, unusually, has decided the companies need not even engage in dialogue with the civil society groups that brought the complaint. These groups included EarthRights International and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.
OECD Watch, a non-governmental organization that monitors decisions on alleged breaches, said local people were unhappy with the companies’ involvement in the pipeline.
Daewoo International, an international trading company with interests in engineering and construction, operates the consortium developing the Shwe project, and Kogas is a partner. Kogas was established by the Korean government in 1983 to import liquid natural gas.
Construction of a pipeline is being planned to carry the Shwe gas to China, and campaign groups say the entire project threatens widespread human rights abuses because of the involvement of the Burmese military.
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