The Council on Ethics recommends that Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) be placed under observation due to an unacceptable risk that the company is contributing to serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict. The recommendation concerns APSEZ’s business association with the armed forces in Myanmar, which in February 2021 staged a military coup. After the coup, armed conflicts in the country have intensified, and over 1,000 people have been killed. Assaults on the civilian population are ongoing, and there is a substantial risk that new, gross abuses will be perpetrated by the armed forces.
In 2019, an Adani subsidiary signed a Build-Operate-Transfer/lease agreement with the military-owned conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) to develop the Ahlon International Port Terminal in Yangon. The Council takes the position that any company operating in an area of conflict has a duty to exercise particular care. The Council also relies on the UN’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, which found that any business partnership with MEC constitutes a high risk of contributing to human rights abuses and the violation of international humanitarian law. In the Council’s view, APSEZ’s collaboration with MEC may contribute to strengthening the armed forces’ economic and logistical capacity.
In October 2021, APSEZ announced that it was planning to exit its investment in Myanmar. In light of the situation in the country, the Council nevertheless considers that there is significant uncertainty with respect to when such a withdrawal will be possible to implement. The Council therefore recommends that the company be placed under observation.
The Council on Ethics submitted its recommendation 15 November 2021. On 7 March 2022, Norges Bank published its decision to place the company under observation.