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Co-operates with criticised company

 (image) From http://universitas.no/news/54029/co-operates-with-criticised-company/ – This should not have happened. We think ethical minimum requirements should be required of the businesses that presented themselves during the Working Life Days, says Ingeborg Laukvik, who is the leader of the local Blindern-chapter of the Norwegian Students´and Academics´ International Assistance Fund, SAIH.

Activity goes against international law

On October 15th, the business Fugro presented itself during the university´s Working Life Days. Norwatch, the supervisor of Norwegian businesses´ foreign affairs, documented that Fugro had done seismic examinations for oil outside the coast of Western Sahara, on request by Moroccan authorities.This acticity goes against recommendations from both Norwegian authorities and the UN´s juridical office. The latter claims that extraction of natural resources that fail to gain the local population goes against international law, since Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco.- Fugro contributes to a breach of international law through the justification of the occupation, says Laukvik.SAIH thinks a possible discovery of oil outside the coast of Western Sahara would be a very strong economical incentive for Morocco to maintain their occupation.

No ethical minimum requirements

Ole Petter Ottersen, president by the University of Oslo (UiO), would not comment on this case specifically. but says that the university naturally wants the businesses that attend the Working Life Days should show general good business practice.- It is, however, a challenge to check this on the detail level, especially when it comes to international businesses.Gisle Hellsten, the leader of the Career Center that arranged the Working Life Days, says that the center carries out ethical considerations, but that they up until now has had any formal ethical minimum requirements for the businesses they invite to participate.Ottersen points out how this situation can gain the students.- The Working Life Days is a good opportunity for students to do research on employers to find out of how their ethical profile fits into the student´s own values.

– The university is responsible

Leader of the Student Parliament by the University of Oslo disagrees strongly on this matter.- I´m surprised by how the president says that the students should investigate the businesses´ ethical profiles themselves before the event. When the university picks out business to present to the students, it is the university´s responsibility to make sure that they follow formal ethical guidelines, says Mari Helen Varøy.Laukvik on her side sows doubt about difficulty in carrying out an ethical evaluation of the businesses.- In this case a Google search would have been enough to find out that Fugro has been accused of unethical activity. If this should turn out to be difficult to do, SAIH is more than happy to help, says Laukvik.She also calls president Ottersen´s position cowardly.- The university should be a critical institution and push businesses to take responsibility for society.Such a pressurizing has worked in similar cases in the past, according to Laukvik.- When Kerr-McGee charted the petroleum deposits in the same area that Fugro has charted, the Ministry of Finance pulled out their investments in the business. Kerr-McGee then chose to stop the activity, and that shows that ethical pressure on the businesses actually work.

No ethical guarantee next year

Gisle Hellsten cannot guarantee that they will establish clear ethical minimum requirements toward the businesses they invite next year. Unacceptable, thinks Varøy.- The Career Center probably would not have invited the tobacco or weapon industry to the event. The threshold is low when it comes to contacts at such an event, and therefore it is more likely for the students who attend the event to end up in one of the businesses that are represented.

Universitas has not managed to get a comment from Fugro despite several enquiries.

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