This is a complaint by two Dayak Hibun communities in West Kalimantan, Indonesia (“the Communities”). It is made against a regulatory body called Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (“RSPO”) under Chapter IV of the OECD Guidelines 2011 edition.
The Communities’ complaint is that RSPO has failed
- in breach of Chapter IV(3) to “seek ways to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their business operations, products or services by a business relationship, even if they do not contribute to those impacts”; and/or
- in breach of Chapter IV(5) to “carry out human rights due diligence as appropriate to [its] size, the nature and context of [its] operations and the severity of the risks of adverse human rights impacts”.
Both complaints arise out of the actions of PT Mitra Austral Sejahtera (“PT MAS”), which is or was until recently a wholly owned subsidiary of a Malaysian MNE called Sime Darby Berhad (“Sime Darby”). The Communities allege that PT MAS and Sime Darby have unlawfully excluded them and threaten to continue to unlawfully exclude them from their traditional lands, so that they can continue to be used for palm oil. As a result the Communities have been and/or will be denied their fundamental human rights.
The Communities first tried to engage Sime Darby in the resolution of those issues when it acquired PT MAS in 2006, but did not get very far. In 2012 they referred the dispute to RSPO1, but in the 5 years that have passed since then have made no more progress than they had in the 6 years before that.
The Communities contend that RSPO could and should have assisted them to recover their lands and/or to mitigate the adverse impact on them of PT MAS operations, but that it has consistently failed to do this. In particular, RSPO:
- has failed to take any or any effective steps to ensure that the complaints made by the Communities under the RSPO complaints procedure are determined within a reasonable period
- on the contrary, has certified Sime Darby as compliant with RSPO Principles and Criteria (“RSPO Criteria”) when in fact its dealings with the Communities were not and are still not compliant; and by these and other means
- has thereby encouraged Sime Darby and PT MAS in the belief that they can delay any effective resolution of the Communities’ claims for a protracted period with little or no risk to their commercial interests or reputation.
In short the Communities contend that RSPO has failed to comply with its own rules and procedures, and that as a result of this failure it has also fallen seriously short of what the Communities were entitled to expect of it under the OECD Guidelines.