In June 2020, the Council on Ethics recommended that Kirin Holdings Co Ltd (Kirin) be placed under observation pursuant to the provision in the Guidelines for Observation and Exclusion from the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) relating to serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict.
Kirin is a Japanese holding company with several subsidiaries i.a. engaged in beverage production. In Myanmar, the company is a partner in two joint ventures with the military-owned conglomerate Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL). The armed forces in Myanmar have committed acts of extreme brutality against the country’s civilian population, and a great many of the victims belong to the Rohingya community, a religious minority in Myanmar. The Council on Ethics takes the position that companies which operate in areas of conflict are expected to exercise particular care, and that the business partnership with MEHL poses a high risk of contributing to gross violations. The Council also found that there were a significant risk of the military committing new human rights abuses.
Before the Council med its recommendation, Kirin disclosed that it was considering changes to its operations in Myanmar, while communicating that this is a process that may take some time. Due to the uncertainty relating to future developments, the Council recommended that the company be placed under observation.
In November 2020 Norges Bank asked the Council to provide additional information i.a. as regards the company’s contribution to the violations.
Shortly after the coup d’état in Myanmar in February 2021, Kirin announced that it has decided to terminate the partnership with MEHL. The Council on Ethics will keep the company under observation until the partnership is ended. Norges Bank has also asked the Council to observe how the company conducts due diligence and implement measures to reduce the risk of contributing to norm violations.
The Council on Ethics submitted its recommendation 23 June 2020. Norges Bank published its decision to place the company under observation 3 March 2021.