After an initial assessment, the NCP finds that the issues raised in the complaint merit further consideration, and has decided to proceed with the complaint. As stated in the assessment, the NCP has not expressed any view as to whether Telenor has not acted consistently with the OECD Guidelines.
As stated in our official response to the NCP, we believe Telenor’s due diligence and risk assessments has been comprehensive and that Telenor has had adequate policies and processes in place, including in the relevant township in Rakhine State. In Telenor’s view, the processes, including risk assessment, has been in accordance with the framework set by the OECD Guidelines.
Telenor remains committed to complying with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (guidelines), as well as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and we continue to support the NCP with facts and with providing clarifications in the case. Telenor has from the onset of this case, expressed openness for dialogue with the complainant and the NCP.
As a global company, we acknowledge that we do face human rights challenges in countries we operate in, especially in Myanmar. We entered Myanmar in 2014 as a result of an open international tender process with a commitment to providing affordable mobile and Internet services for everyone. Today Telenor Myanmar has 92 percent network population coverage reaching all regions, including in Rakhine state. Prior to making the decision to invest in Myanmar, Telenor Group conducted due diligence covering various corporate responsibility areas including an assessment of human rights impact.
Telecom towers are constructed to carry mobile communications equipment and are the basic infrastructure needed for supporting a mobile network in any country. Maintaining ordinary infrastructure for civilian use is critical to ensure access to mobile communication, also during conflict. The reported military use of the tower in Alethankyaw in late August 2017 would have constituted an unauthorised and possibly illegal intrusion of civilian infrastructure at a time when Telenor Myanmar was not operating its mobile network on the mentioned tower.
Telenor has expressed grave concern for the conflicts in Rakhine, and support the call to implement the recommendations in the previously released Final Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.
NCP has requested that both parties respect the ongoing process and do not further comment publically on the complaint while the process is ongoing.
Key facts/timeline that we have highlighted to the NCP:
- The mentioned tower is owned and operated by Irrawaddy Green Tower, a vendor to Telenor Myanmar.
- The tower was erected, but not operational in August 2017. Telenor Myanmar did not have access to the tower due to official travel restrictions given the ongoing conflict. The tower was not operational until March 2018.
- After becoming aware of the Kaladan report in November 2018, Telenor conducted supply chain inspections on the tower site. The vendor did find that a lock for the protective fence was missing in 2017. However, none of the inspections carried out subsequently reported any other signs of unusual activity.
- Since November 2018, Telenor has formally requested that the Myanmar authorities investigate the claims, both through an official letter and in repeated dialogue with the authorities.