Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in South Sudan

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Overview

According to the Kennedy School of Government, throughout the industrialized world and in many developing countries there have been rising expectations of the social role corporations are expected to play.[1] However according to the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS), over recent years in Sudan civil wars and undemocratic rule have made it highly problematic for companies to be a force for good in the country.[2]

As many major players such a ONGC Videsh, CNPC and Petronas set up offices in Juba in the wake of South Sudanese independence, they faced a series of challenges relating to their role in the new country, prompted by factors such as logistical and staffing challenges and undefined border of operations, among others.[3]

ECOS Guidelines

The Transitional Constitution in South Sudan sets out the broad legal framework for the oil sector, however in addition to the South Sudan-specific legislation, oil companies and consortia must also comply with international legislation such as the ILO Conventions on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, if the South Sudan government becomes a signatory. Beyond this there are a series of voluntary standards such as the EITI or the World Bank Gas Flaring Project, with which companies may choose to comply.[4]

In an attempt to pull together many of these standards, the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) released a consolidated set of business principles for the sector during the transition period and beyond. In their analysis, the upstream oil business in particular has been at the centre of conflict and violations of human rights and had to thoroughly rethink the way it operates from 2005 onwards.

The guidelines identify five priority principles, drawn from international law, authoritative voluntary standards for business behaviour and the provisions and purpose of the CPA. The document also proposes a set of 13 activities, including the essential impact assessments.[2]

Findings of 'Integrity Research' report

A report released by Integrity Research and Consultancy in 2011 assessed the CSR policies and practices of oil companies in South Sudan, with the aim of better understanding the potential for international oil companies to play a positive role in nation-building and development.

As part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, principles were laid out for the sustainable utilization and control of natural resources, consultation of local communities, shared rights over revenues and compensation over past violations of human rights. However accordig to Integrity Research the CPA was never fully implemented, partly due to uncertainty over the specific responsibility of oil companies, leading to an 'accountability vacuum'.

The report found that while some companies which participated in the research (CNPC, ONGC and Petronas) had global CSR policies to which they adhere, in most cases there was no corresponding local policy. The research also found that most company representative were not aware of global CSR principles such as the ICMM or the World Bank Gas Flaring Project), however of all the global initiatives the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was the most commonly recognized.

No company interviewed had a mechanism to monitor relations with local communities and the research found that the perception of CSR among companies in South Sudan tends to fall firmly into the "philanthropy" space, carried out in an ad-hoc and unmonitored manner rather than being thoroughly integrated into corporate strategy. In particular, the logistical difficulties of companies relocating offices to Juba may explain the fact that CSR is low down on the list of priorities for these actors.

Among the recommendations made by the consultancy were; a clarification of accountabilities between oil companies, JOCs and the government; capacity building for senior management and community contact staff on conflict sensitivity; regular updates on key global initiatives; and the creation of an anonymous space to raise concerns and questions in the form of Oil Affairs Committees.[5]

External Links

ECOS: Business Principles for Sudan during the Interim Period

References

  1. "Defining Corporate Social Responsibility" Kennedy School of Government, retrieved 5 June 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Business Principles for Sudan during the Interim Period" ECOS, retrieved 5 June 2012.
  3. "Defining Corporate Social Responsibility" Kennedy School of Government, retrieved 5 June 2012.
  4. "IMPLEMENTING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN SOUTH SUDAN" Integrity Research and Consultancy, October 2011.
  5. "IMPLEMENTING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN SOUTH SUDAN" Integrity Research and Consultancy, October 2011.