Today, Friday 17 June, IKV Pax Christi had a meeting with Shell - including Dick Benschop, Director Shell Netherlands, and John Barry, Vice-President Middle East and Northern Africa - about the company's role and responsibilities in Syria.
IKV Pax Christi expressed its deep concern over the reported use of life ammunition against unarmed civilians and the deployment of tanks in densely populated areas. The number of killed Syrian civilians is rising every day and the Government shows no concern whatsoever about the life and rights of its population.
During the meeting with Shell, IKV Pax Christi asked Shell to go beyond condemning the violence in Syria and to denounce the gross and systematic human rights abuses by Government agents, as most recently reported by the United Nations. Shell's support for human rights must include a direct appeal to abusers.
Shell has been asked to clarify which actions it is taking to ensure appropriate distance from the Syrian regime and to assure that it is in no way contributing to or seen to condone human rights violations. Shell informed IKV Pax Christi of its pro-active compliance with the EU sanctions against 23 leading politicians and businessmen in Syria. This entails a full screening of all its investments and business dealings from any links with the sanctioned 23 individuals and the companies in which they have any interest. IKV Pax Christi believes that this is the right thing to do and urges all other members of the business community to adopt a similar policy.
Shell's business principles state that the ability to promote human rights is an important factor in determining whether to enter or end relationships. We remain convinced that Shell is not in the position to effectively promote human rights, leaving the company no other option but to consider suspension of its operations in Syria, in a way that sends a clear message to the Government that gross and systematic human rights abuses are acutely jeopardizing the future of the country. Business a usual is no option under the current circumstances.
Shell and IKV Pax Christi will meet again in 3 weeks time to discuss the situation in Syria and progress on the discussed issues.
Natural Resources, Conflict & Human Rights, Humanitarian Disarmament, Middle East, The Netherlands