The Financial Times has reported today of parallel complaints that were filed simultaneously in Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) before Multiple National Contact Points (NCPs) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They will begin the process of investigating three international mining giants (BHP, Anglo American and Glencore) over allegations of serious human rights abuses and devastating environmental pollution at the Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia, and investigating Ireland’s state-owned energy provider, the ESB, over purchases of coal from the mine having allegedly failed to identify adverse impacts which are directly linked to the mine operations.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.
If successful, the three companies that jointly own the Cerrejón mine (BHP, Anglo American, and Glencore) will have to take steps to comply with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, including progressively closing down the mine in full and environmental restoration. The complaints against the mining giants also call for the full compensation of communities for the harms they allege they have suffered.
Separate complaints have also been lodged against Dublin-based Coal Marketing Company (CMC), which is the exclusive marketer of coal from the Colombian mine, as well as Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board (ESB) (95% owned by the Irish state), which has been a major purchaser of the mine’s coal. In 2019, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended that Ireland “consider stopping purchasing coal from the Cerrejón mine”.
All five complaints have been lodged with the relevant National Contact Points for the OECD, which are tasked with ensuring that companies comply with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
Monica Feria-Tinta was instructed by GLAN in the preparation of the OECD complaints.
GLAN’s work was led by legal researcher Aislinn Kelly-Lyth. The complaints are being supported by a coalition of Colombian, Irish and international human rights and environmental NGOs.
The complaints can be found here: