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SOCO to halt oil exploration activities in Virunga after OECD Guidelines complaint

SOCO’s decision is the result of an OECD Guidelines complaint filed by WWF with support from SOMO

Following an OECD Guidelines complaint filed by World Wide Fund (WWF) against the English oil exploration company SOCO for its oil exploration activities in the DRC’s Virunga National Park, WWF and SOCO entered into mediation. This process was facilitated by the UK National Contact Point (NCP) and resulted yesterday in an agreement and commitment by SOCO to halt its oil exploration activities in Virunga. SOCO also committed not to explore for oil in any other World Heritage Site anywhere in the world. This is the first time an OECD Guidelines complaint process has resulted in the total halting of a destructive project.

Virunga National Park is situated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is Africa’s oldest national park. WWF is campaigning to protect the site of SOCOs controversial oil exploration activities. In October 2013, WWF filed a complaint against SOCO under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. WWFs complaint alleged SOCOs oil exploration activities in Virguna National Park do not contribute to sustainable development. According to the complaint, SOCO has disregarded the DRCs legal commitment to preserve Virunga as a World Heritage Site. The UK NCP has accepted the complaint against SOCO in February 2014, which has been followed by NCPs succesfull mediation between SOCO and WWF.

SOMO advised and supported WWF and its partners throughout the entire complaint process, from the researching and drafting of the complaint, to the filing and negotiation process.

For a description of the case and complaint, please click here.

For the Joint Statement by SOCO International PLC (‘SOCO’) and WWF at 11 June 2014, please click here.

For the WWF fress release, please click here.