By Simon Billenness, Business and Human Rights Thematic Specialist and Paz y Miño, Andean Countries Specialist
Did you understand Amnesty International USA is a long-time shareholder activist?
This week, Amnesty International USA joined the New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, in submitting a shareholder decision at Chevron Corporation. The decision asks the corporate to nominate a board member with experience within the affect on communities and the setting of its oil and gasoline extraction operations.
For over a decade, Amnesty International USA has retained a small quantity of Chevron inventory and different firms for the aim of partaking in shareholder activism. Owning this inventory permits Amnesty International USA to hitch with different shareholders in submitting resolutions and talking out at company annual shareholder conferences. Our shareholder activism has given us the chance to advocate for human rights with corporations, together with ExxonMobil, Yahoo, and Dow Chemical.
Amnesty International USA has an extended historical past of advocacy in help of the communities in Ecuador affected by Chevron’s oil air pollution. For instance, in April 2006, Amnesty International USA joined a delegation of concerned shareholders and activists at the Chevron Corporation annual stockholder meeting in Houston, Texas, to demand the corporate deal with its human rights obligations in Ecuador’s Amazon and the Niger Delta. The delegation included Emergildo Criollo, a pacesetter from the Cofan tribe in Ecuador.
We know shareholder activism has an affect as a result of firms always attempt to shut it down. For instance, in 2012, Chevron went so far as to subpoena me, demanding all of my emails and documents concerning Amnesty International’s shareholder activism regarding Chevron. This subpoena was in reference to a retaliatory lawsuit introduced by Chevron in opposition to the Ecuadorian villagers and their legal professionals who efficiently received a $9.5 billion judgment in opposition to Chevron for its oil air pollution within the Ecuadorian Amazon. With its subpoenas, Chevron took goal on the advocacy work of Amnesty International, Amazon Watch, and Rainforest Action Network to attempt to shut it down.
What Chevron administration desperately desires to keep away from admitting to its shareholders is the significant risk the company still faces due to legal actions against it in Canada to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment. When Chevron fled Ecuador, after the $9.5 billion judgement in opposition to it, the affected communities turned to the courts in Brazil, Argentina, and Canada, searching for the seizure of the belongings of Chevron subsidiaries in an effort to pay for the Ecuador judgement.
After an unanimous 2015 decision from Canada’s Supreme Court that gave a inexperienced gentle for the Ecuadorians to hunt the seizure of Chevron’s belongings in Canada, hearings have been held in Ontario this previous September.
The principal difficulty now earlier than the Canadian courts is whether or not to grant the Ecuadorian’s request for access to Chevron-Canada’s assets to cover Chevron Corp’s $9.5 billion debt, versus Chevron’s protection movement to summarily dismiss your entire declare. The Ecuadorians base their plea on the large proof of contamination in Ecuador and the $9.5 billion verdict issued in Ecuador and upheld by its highest court docket. Chevron claims the decision itself is fraudulent, basing this declare on the truth that it managed to win its retaliatory RICO (racketeering) lawsuit within the US by alleging bribery, corruption, and a “ghostwritten” judgment by the Ecuadorian court docket. The downside for Chevron is that its key witness admitted to mendacity about that bribe and forensic proof disproves its “ghostwriting” claims.
Shareholders, in ever growing numbers, are alarmed not solely at Chevron’s willingness to abuse the legislation and assault its critics, however on the appreciable waste of assets in combating a case through which the corporate is so clearly culpable. Indeed, estimates of quantity spent by Chevron to struggle the Ecuadorian judgment, somewhat than merely clear up, have already reached over $2 billion.
At Chevron’s annual shareholder assembly this previous May, a major variety of Chevron shareholders expressed criticism of administration. Shareholders voted 378,540,311 shares in help of a decision that cited administration’s mishandling of the case in Ecuador and referred to as for tighter shareholder oversight. Put simply, Chevron management lost the confidence of shareholders holding nearly one third of its shares, valued at almost $38 billion.
Chevron’s actions on this case have made the corporate renown worldwide as a nasty company citizen and violator of each human rights and the setting. That is why the shareholder motion introduced by Amnesty International USA continues to be an necessary and efficient a part of human rights advocacy on behalf of the Ecuadorian villagers whose lives have been destroyed by Chevron’s oil air pollution.