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 SOCO’s oil exploration activities in Virguna National Park do not contribute to sustainable development and that the company had failed to conduct environmental and human rights due diligence. According to the complaint, SOCO has disregarded the DRCs legal commitment to preserve Virunga as a World Heritage Site. The UK NCP accepted the complaint against SOCO in February 2014 and subsequently initiated mediation, which resulted in the agreement and commitments by SOCO.

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.

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