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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Save the Mekong campaign launches test cases

Save the Mekong campaign launches test cases

The Save The Mekong campaign against mainstream dams has branched out beyond public forums, protest rallies and advocacy groups.

Corporate test cases have been launched by Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese non-governmental organisations (NGOs), think tanks and legal aid organisations. They have cited the Austrian company Andritz, which has a $300 million contract to supply vital parts, including the turbines to power the Xayaburi dam.

Another test case was brought against the Finnish-based Poyry engineering and consulting company, partners of the dam’s main contractors Thailand’s CH. Karnchang group, in Helsinki. The cases were filed under the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) rules of corporate and social responsibility. In both cases, it was alleged that the companies were involved in a project that risked the health, nutrition and life of millions of citizens of the Mekong region.

The Cambodian alliance was made up of the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT), the Samreth Law Group of Cambodia, and the Centre for Social Research and Development.

In Austria, it is now up to the Vienna government to decide how to conduct the hearing. In Helsinki, the case has already been heard by Finland’s ministry of labour.

Poyry was accused of misleading stakeholders, unethical conduct and other alleged violations of OECD rules of corporate and social responsibility. A major player in the hydropower industry through its Zurich subsidiary Poyry Energy, the company denied the allegations.

Last year, the Helsinki hearing concluded that, while critical of Poyry’s failure to consult with stakeholders, it did not find enough evidence to rule against the Finnish group for violating corporate and social responsibility.

Tom Fawthrop

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