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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Human Rights and the Oil and Gas Industry

This is an age of increasing specialization even as to civil rights. Thus, a new article in the Journal of World Energy Law & Business addresses civil rights in that sector. The article is by several European lawyers from ngos and Clifford Chance, and is titled: Human rights responsibilities in the oil and gas sector: applying the UN Guiding Principles, by Rae Lindsay, Robert McCorquodale, Lara Blecher, Jonathan Bonnitcha, Antony Crockett, and Audley Sheppard – J World Energy Law Bus. published 18 January 2013, 10.1093/jwelb/jws033The full article is behind this pay wall.

The abstract provides an overview:

The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011 and are now an international standard in this area. This article explores the implications of the Guiding Principles for business enterprises operating in the oil and gas sector where there are human rights impacts of their operations. It considers the responsibility to respect human rights by these business enterprises, including in relation to remedies for victims, and the actions that should be taken by responsible and prudent business enterprises to implement the Guiding Principles.

Close consideration of the duty of due diligence is undertaken, which is a broad responsibility on business enterprises to identify their actual and potential human rights impacts (including by third parties) and then to address them through policies, practices and mechanisms. This position is considered in light of surveys and interviews of existing practices in the oil and gas sector. The consequences of this responsibility under the Guiding Principles are also examined through consideration of contractual issues, where a business enterprise s leverage is of relevance, and analysis of the many legal risks that might arise.

While the Guiding Principles do not, of themselves, create new law, it is evident that there are many legal issues that do arise, and are likely to do so at an increasing rate, and that all parts of a business enterprise are affected. This article offers constructive and practical legal guidance to some of the challenges and complexities that those in the oil and gas sector will face in their efforts to discharge their responsibility to respect human rights.


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