NGO’s look to United Nations for Addressing Stora Enso’s Human Rights Violations in China
Eleven International NGO´s file complaint to UN Human Rights Council about Stora Enso’s land acquisitions. UN Global Compact requires Stora Enso to respond to allegations by 11 April.
Human rights violations in connection to Stora Enso’s eucalyptus plantations and planned cardboard factory in Guangxi have prompted a group of international and Finnish NGO’s to instigate a complaint to the United Nations. The complaint to the UN Human Rights Council, filed under the 1503 procedure today, is endorsed by Friends of the Earth International, Global Forest Coalition, World Rainforest Movement and eight other networks and organisations. The complaint has also been signed by the director of Red Forest Hotel, the documentary film which documented human rights violations linked to Stora Enso operations in Guangxi.
“The land conflicts have led to two reported deaths and multiple instances of violence, while these cases may form only a tip of the iceberg. The UN Human Rights Council must investigate the situation and offer effective remedies, as other avenues for upholding human rights in Guangxi have proved futile”, argues Ms. Noora Ojala from Friends of the Earth Finland.
The UN’s Global Compact (an initiative for increasing social responsibility of corporations which Stora Enso has signed) has already reacted to a complaint against Stora Enso. UN Global Compact has requested Stora Enso to respond by 11 April to inquiries about the project’s impact on human rights and the environment. The company has since its land conflicts surfaced in 2009 announced that it will review land deals in China and that it sees violence as unacceptable.
“Realities on the ground suggest that Stora Enso has done little concrete. The problematic eucalyptus monoculture strategy remains in place, victims have not been compensated, and there has been negligible consideration on the effects of company land use on biodiversity or local people’s means of subsistence. There are also indications that a culture of fear has developed in villages where the company has acquired land, making remedies by the company itself questionable” says Mr. Mika Koskinen, director of the Red Forest Hotel -documentary.
The year 2012 saw Stora Enso being dropped from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the company receiving the Greenwashing Award of the Year by Friends of the Earth Sweden. Stora Enso appointed acclaimed human rights expert Parul Sharma, who recently after just 5 months with the company resigned citing ”disagreeing views on sustainable development” and saying “there is no work being done for human rights in Stora Enso”.
The main owners of the company are Swedish FAM, Finnish pension funds Varma and Ilmarinen, and state-owned KELA and Solidium. Political responsibility for Finnish state stewardship lies with Heidi Hautala, Minister of International Development.
”Stora Enso’s biggest shareholders and minister Hautala have overlooked the company’s problematic actions for too long. Given the human rights implications I think it is high time that the major shareholders seriously consider the position of the current strategy and leadership at the upcoming AGM”, concludes Mr. Mika Koskinen.
*The ICESCR covenant requires Finland to ensure that companies under its jurisdiction do not violate human rights in other jurisdictions.
List of NGO’s signing complaint to UN Human Rights Council
Friends of the Earth International network, Forests and Biodiversity Programme
Global Forest Coalition network
World Rainforest Movement network
Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa
Jordens Vänner, Friends of the Earth Sweden
Suomen Maan ystävät ry – Friends of the Earth Finland
Friends of the Landless Finland
Uusi Tuuli ry – New Wind, Finland
Siemenpuu foundation, Finland
Emmaus Sunfactory, Finland