The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has filed a complaint alleging that British oil company Soco International PLC has breached international corporate social responsibility standards.
WWF contends that, in the course of Soco’s oil exploration activities in and around Virunga National Park, the company has violated environmental and human rights provisions of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. “Soco’s operations are putting Virunga’s people, animals and habitats at risk. The only way for Soco to come into compliance with the OECD guidelines is for the company to end all exploration in Virunga for good,” said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of conservation at WWF International. “We urge the company to stop its activities immediately.”
Soco’s own impact assessment shows that oil exploration could cause pollution, damage habitats and bring poaching to this fragile ecosystem. It is also alleged that it could also harm residents’ health and damage the natural resources upon which 50,000 people depend.
Virunga National Park is the most biodiverse protected area in Africa and one of the continent’s oldest World Heritage Sites. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee maintains that oil exploration is inconsistent with the World Heritage Convention, and has called for the cancellation of all Virunga oil permits.
‘By nominating Virunga as a World Heritage Site, the DRC government made a legal commitment to the international community to conserve the park for future generations,’ WWF’s OECD complaint says. ‘By entering the park for oil exploration, Soco has breached OECD guidelines, urging respect for national laws and international treaties,’ WWF contends.