The divestment campaign against Talisman Energy and its partners in the oil-driven destruction of Sudan has now been internationalized in a major fashion, with concerted and highly organized European efforts presently underway.
Eric Reeves [February 1, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
This new broad-based European campaign is a landmark in furthering the efforts to work against oil development projects continuing in the midst of Sudan’s ongoing civil war. The organizational effort of “Peace First” has been impressive, and the detailed steps to the campaign bespeak considerable research and strategic thinking.
The analogy between the divestment campaign against oil companies operating in Sudan and the divestment campaign of apartheid-era South Africa takes on more and more power.
“Peace First”, Stop Oil from Fuelling the War in Sudan
Brief of a European campaign to suspend oil operations in Sudan
from Human Rights Programme
Pax Christi Netherlands
The January 2000 report commissioned by the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs “Human Security in Sudan”, better known as the Harker report, states: “The evidence we gathered, including testimony of those directly involved directs us to conclude that oil is exacerbating conflict in Sudan” (page 15). Mr John Harker’s conclusion is shared by many Southern Sudanese organizations, scholars and international NGOs working in the country. An intensive campaign in Canada against the Sudanese operations of Talisman Energy has been futile so far. The oil production continues, and new oil fields are being explored, by European firms, while the war, the human rights abuses and the suffering has increased. It is time now for Europeans to act.
Until mid 2000, there was hope among South Sudanese organizations that, if oil revenues would be distributed through a trustfund, this could guarantee an equitable revenue sharing among the North and the South. A trustfund should ensure that Sudan’s newly acquired wealth would be a force for the good. The lack of interest by the main parties needed for such an arrangement smashed this hope. From Southern Sudan now come urgent requests to stop the oil production, because in their experience it exacerbates war and increases human suffering. The opinion of the organizations meeting at the December 2000 Sudan Ecumenical
Forum summarizes as; “Peace First; Stop Oil from Fuelling War in Sudan”. A coalition of Dutch NGOs, co-ordinated by Pax Christi and in close co-operation with a Sudan Focal point Europe now calls European organizations involved in Sudan to join in a campaign to realize this demand.
Marina Peter of Sudan Focal Point Europe has written a strategy paper for a European campaign, on which this brief is based.
There is a panoply of organizations in Europe already engaged in lobbying for Sudan or interested to join the campaign. They will be the ones campaigning. Organizations that wish to join in are invited to co-ordinate their efforts on a national basis. These national coalitions will co-ordinate with a core group, consisting of staff of supporting organizations. They will manage the campaign on a day-to-day basis. The core group, in close co-operation with Sudan Focal Point Europe, will gather and disseminate information, guard the common agenda, propose and initiate common activities,
prepare positions, and guard the budget. The core group will act under the name “European Coalition for Sudan”.
1. To suspend oil production and exploration in Sudan, until there are sufficient guarantees that revenues will be equitably shared and that they will benefit the population at large.
This is the main objective of the campaign. Pressure must be brought upon the private sector and governments to end the production, exploration and marketing of Sudanese crude. The coalition believes that there will be no fair and beneficial oil production without a negotiated and effective peace agreement. The
situation in Sudan well documented and so dramatic, and our demand to straightforward, that it seems futile to have just dialogues with companies. The impression is that oil companies that have chosen to exploit Sudan’s resources will not pull out unless the pressure exercised on them makes them suffer.
2. To sharpen and conditionalize Europe’s current policy of critical
dialogue with Sudan.
Despite the fact that the EU mission of December 2000 did not note much progress on the five topics covered by the critical dialogue (peace process; democracy and state of law; human rights; relations with neighbouring states; terrorism), it was decided to extend the dialogue with a second year. Unfortunately, the report by the mission was not made public. Europe’s policy is thus
not fully open to public scrutiny. Meanwhile, the private sector feels encouraged to invest in Sudan because of the improvements that Europe claims to observe.
Europe’s policy should be modified. It should be amended with effective discouragement of European investment in Sudan’s oil production and exploration and it should be conditionalizing economic relations on real and measurable progress on all five issues now covered by the dialogue. Furthermore, it must be guarantees that EU financial assistance to Sudan, especially the recent Humanitarian Plus programme financing, reaches those who suffer most. This would exclude the channeling of funds through Government controlled agencies or the distribution of goods through the North only. A central goal the European policy should be the safeguarding and building of society in the South.
3. To raise public awareness about the plight of the Sudanese people and the role of the oil industry in Sudan
A. Oil companies
Companies to target are:
1. Lundin Oil (Sweden/Switzerland, operating company of the consortium currently exploring block 5a) and MV (the Austrian oil company, member of this consortium). Lundin Oil is currently stepping up its drilling campaign. If it succeeds and block 5a will be put into production, tackling the oil issue will become very tough.
2. Petronas (Kuala Lumpur) and CNPC (Beijing), together holding70% of the GNOPC, operated by Talisman.
3. TotalFinaElf, to dissuade them from activating their concession.
4. Weir Pumps, Mannesman AG, and the many other suppliers of the two active consortiums.
5. Royal Dutch/Shell, marketing oil in Northern Sudan, and allegedly not in the position to refuse servicing the army and the air forces.
6. Trafigura (marketing for Talisman), Vitol (marketing for Petronas), Arcadia (for the GoS) and Unipec (for CNPC).
7. European Parliament, to strengthen its stand against European
investment in Sudan.
8. The European Parliament, to include Sudan on upcoming hearings on corporate responsibilities.
9. The European Commission to publicly re-evaluate the dialogue with Sudan, focussing on the impact of oil exploitation on the war and basing it, not on secretive mission reports, but on European human rights assessments. Europe is to nominate a special rapporteur on Sudan who, in close co-operation with the UN rapporteur, will monitor the impact of oil exploitation on war and human rights.
10. The EU to effectively discourage investing in Sudan under the
11. The EU to close its borders to Sudanese oil products, in preparation of a UN resolution.
12. The Swedish and Belgium presidencies of the EU, to put the connection between FDI and war in Africa on the agenda.
13. National parliaments and governments to push for European
initiatives (supra 9-12).
14. National representatives in IGAD Partners Forum.
15. Sudan desk officers at national and international governmental
16. EU offices in Khartoum and Nairobi.
17. The general public.
1. Disinvestment campaign in targeted companies.
2. Conferences and meetings.
3. Mobilizing civil society in Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Malaysia, et cetera.
4. Targeting company staff through e-mail.
5. Public campaign for conflict-free oil products.
6. Lobbying national parliaments and governments.
7. Lobbying the EP and EU institutions.
[January 21, 2001]
Egbert G.Ch. Wesselink
Human Rights Programme
Pax Christi Netherlands
PO Box 19318
NL-3501 DH Utrecht
Tel: +31 30 23 33 346
Fax: +31 30 23 68 199
Mob: +31 62 06 26 756