On 27 July 2021, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) on behalf of 474 Myanmar-based civil society organisations submitted a complaint against Telenor ASA to the Norwegian NCP. The complaint contends that Telenor’s sale of its Myanmar business to the Lebanese company M1 Group fails to meet the standards of responsible disengagement set out in the OECD Guidelines, in three key respects:
1. Telenor has failed to conduct appropriate risk-based due diligence and has failed to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts potentially arising from the sale of its Myanmar operations.
2. Telenor has failed to meaningfully engage with relevant stakeholders in relation to the sale of Telenor Myanmar to M1 Group, including the Myanmar-based civil society organisations endorsing the complaint.
3. Telenor has not been transparent in relation to its decision to disengage from its Myanmar operations.
Telenor’s sale to M1 Group comes after the Myanmar military’s 1 February 2021 coup and brutal crackdown on peaceful protests, civil society and independent media, as well as heightened electronic surveillance. Civil society members involved with the complaint have explained their need for responsible telecommunications businesses that will push back, rather than collude, with repression by the authoritarian government. M1 Group is owned by the billionaire Mikati family, who have a history of business in authoritarian countries including Syria, Sudan and Yemen and face unresolved allegations of corruption and terrorist financing. The complainants do not trust that M1 Group will uphold their human rights responsibilities or do business with integrity.