Vigeo Eiris reports untruly about UN human rights approval
acwa_30.11.2016_609.jpg

The company that certified energy infrastructure in occupied Western Sahara, claims that a UN body had found the company not to breach human rights.
Published: 31.01 - 2018 15:44Printer version    
Above: Saharawi protesting against the Saudi energy projects in Western Sahara which Vigeo Eiris gave certification for green bonds.

The saga of Vigeo Eiris – the certification company that insists Western Sahara being part of Morocco – continues. Now it claims that United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) found its operations to be in respect of the UNGC principles.

In 2016, the Moroccan/French/UK company Vigeo Eiris certified a Saudi energy project in occupied Western Sahara, without seeking consent from the representatives of the territory. Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), found the company's involvement rather ironic, as the Vigeo Eiris's business model is to advise and screen other companies on social responsibility and human rights. The company's main owner EIRIS Foundation even manages a database on companies operating in other occupied territories. Morocco has illegally occupied parts of Western Sahara since 1975.

Read all about Vigeo Eiris and its position in defense of the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara here.

Nevertheless, Vigeo Eiris refused to answer questions from Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) on the matter. Instead, it has defended its practice. Its website still presents Western Sahara as part of Morocco.

Vigeo Eiris has since 2005 been adhering to the UNGC. As a consequence of Vigeo Eiris's non-response to the questions, WSRW called on UNGC for help to mediate, so that answers to our questions could be obtained.

“WSRW campaigned and called on the UN Global Compact office in New York to mediate. Vigeo Eiris were not found to have breached any of the 10 Principles of the United Nations Global Compact”, the company now claims in its annual report to UN Global Compact. The report was published on 15 January 2018.

However, that cannot be true.

UN Global Compact never makes assessments on whether or not companies in fact comply with the 10 principles which companies are supposed to adhere to. UNGC specifically states that it "does not make judgments about participant companies’ performance" on the principles. It stresses that it “is not now and does not aspire to become a compliance based initiative”. Regarding the specific case of Vigeo Eiris-WSRW mediation, UNGC has stated that it "in no way" has made "a judgment on the merits of the concerns raised".

It seems Vigeo Eiris could have misunderstood the nature and mandate of UNGC.

This is what Vigeo Eiris reported to UNGC, 2018
“From November 2016 to March 2017, Vigeo Eiris received letters of protest from Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), regarding the second opinion provided to a green bond issued by Masen, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy in November 2016.
WSRW considered that solar and green projects developed by Masen in the Western side of Sahara were of “illegal nature” and constituted a “violation of the right of the Saharawi people”.
Vigeo Eiris responded publicly to WSRW with 3 letters explaining our position and why we believe there was no reason to withdraw or modify our assessment. WSRW campaigned and called on the UN Global Compact office in New York to mediate. Vigeo Eiris were not found to have breached any of the 10 Principles of the United Nations Global Compact.
All our correspondence were made public and are available on Business & Human Rights Resource Center website.“
The only requirement of adhering to the initiative, in addition to communicating with stakeholders, is the annual self-reporting mechanism, in which the companies report on their commitment to the principles. It was in this document, the so-called Communication on Progress (CoP) report, that Vigeo Eiris claimed that the UN initiative had concluded on the company’s compliance with the UNGC principles.

The issue of the mediation was not whether Vigeo Eiris was complying with the principles or not, but simply to make the company respond to the WSRW letters.

WSRW has today sent a letter to UN Global Compact asking whether it will request Vigeo Eiris for a rectification of the reference to the name of UNGC made in the Communication on Progress report – which is currently posted on the website of UN Global Compact itself. The Vigeo Eiris report can also be downloaded here.

UNGC initially opened mediation between WSRW and Vigeo Eiris on 16 March 2017, but announced on 22 May 2017 that it would no longer mediate. On 1 June 2017, WSRW asked UN Global Compact questions relating to its reasons for ending the dialogue process. WSRW is awaiting reply.

Over the course of the last year, several legal developments have taken place which confirm the breach of self-determination when entering commercial agreements with Morocco for a neighbouring Western Sahara.

On 10 January 2018, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU underlined that international humanitarian law is applicable to the conflict, as he defines Western Sahara under partial foreign occupation by Morocco. The Advocate General furthermore stressed that the right to self-determination is an obligation erga omnes and a human right, and that the representatives of the people of Western Sahara have to give their consent for agreements relating to the territory.

Polisario, the liberation movement of Western Sahara, has already initiated legal cases in national courts against companies that operate in Western Sahara.

The legal developments show that foreign agreements in Western Sahara are in breach of the right of self-determination for the Saharawi people, if consent has not been obtained from the representative of the people. This is in line with what WSRW has communicated to Vigeo Eiris.

Vigeo Eiris claims in its Communication on Progress reports to have “responded publicly to WSRW”. This is not correct. Only one letter was sent from Vigeo Eiris to WSRW, dated 19 December 2016. Other letters, sent to Business & Human Rights Center (and not to WSRW) are not addressed to WSRW, and they fail to address the questions WSRW had sent the company. Letters sent from WSRW to Vigeo Eiris on 14 February 2017 and 3 March 2017 were never responded to, and the questions have not been answered.

Since you're here....
WSRW’s work is being read and used more than ever. But our financial situation is tough. Our work takes time, dedication and diligence. But we do it because we believe it matters – and we hope you do to. If everyone who reads our website or likes us on Facebook, would contribute to our work – 3€, 5€, 27€ … what you can spare – the future of WSRW would be much more secure. You can donate to WSRW in less than a minute here.

    

Top

News archive:
01.02 - 2018EU has sealed Western Sahara trade deal in violation of Court Judgment
30.01 - 2018Vigeo Eiris reports untruly about UN human rights approval
29.01 - 2018'Biggest importer' of phosphate rock is pulling out
12.01 - 2018Glencore has left occupied Western Sahara
22.01 - 2018German government not supportive of business in Western Sahara
10.01 - 2018Polisario calls on EU to halt all trade talks covering Western Sahara
10.01 - 2018EU Court advocate: Fish agreement invalid for including Western Sahara




EN ES FR DE AR

Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
EU Court cases on Western Sahara for dummies

tn_law_hammer.jpg

It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!

tn_court_photo_gdeim_izik_610.jpg

Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch

tn_sjovik_demo_610.jpg

Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder

tn_poweringplunder_eng_610.jpg

At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.

WSRW.org News Archive 2018
WSRW.org News Archive 2017
WSRW.org News Archive 2016
WSRW.org News Archive 2015
WSRW.org News Archive 2014
WSRW.org News Archive 2013
WSRW.org News Archive 2012
WSRW.org News Archive 2011
WSRW.org News Archive 2010
WSRW.org News Archive 2009
WSRW.org News Archive 2008
WSRW.org News Archive 2007
WSRW.org News Archive 2004-2006


Register for our English newsletter:









These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy