Human Rights Groups Appeal to the United Nations Global Compact: Expel Rosatom
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Civil society groups have written to the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative - the United Nations Global Compact - urging them to investigate and expel Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom from the group.

The appeal is based on the study “A Nuclear Prison: How Rosatom Turned Europe’s Biggest Nuclear Power Plant into a Torture Chamber and How the World Can Stop This” by Ukrainian documenters and investigators of international crimes, Truth Hounds, which documents how Russian occupying forces have set up a systematic campaign of abductions, torture, and inhumane treatment of ZNPP workers. Russia’s state-owned nuclear power corporation Rosatom, which began controlling the plant in March 2022, as well as its agents, are fully informed and even involved in persecution of the facility’s workers, Truth Hounds allege.

March 20, 2024

We are writing to the United Nations Global Compact in support of its mission to urge companies to align their practices with universal principles concerning human rights, labour, anti-corruption, and the environment. Specifically, we aim to shed light on reported breaches of Principles 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles by State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, a participatory company.

A recent report published by Truth Hounds, titled “In a Nuclear Prison: How Rosatom turned Europe’s largest nuclear power plant into a torture chamber and how can the world stop it,” sheds light on the atrocities committed by the Russian occupying forces at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) with the knowledge of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom), that has been illegally operating the ZNPP.

The ZNPP, Europe’s largest nuclear facility, fell under the control of Rosatom, the Russian Federation’s atomic energy corporation, around March 11th, 2022. As highlighted in the report, Rosatom’s actions constitute violations of various international nuclear treaty obligations, international humanitarian, human rights, and criminal laws, as well as key international frameworks such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the UN Global Compact.

On March 12th, 2022, employees affiliated with Rosatom assumed operational control of the ZNPP. Eyewitness reports and evidence detailed in the report reveal that these Rosatom employees actively collaborated with officers from the Federal Security Services of the Russian Federation (FSB). Their joint efforts encompassed a coercive initiative involving intimidation tactics to compel cooperation, pressuring employees to report to both the Russian military and Rosatom personnel, and pressuring existing ZNPP staff to sign new labour contracts with Rosatom. On October 5th, 2022, ZNPP was unlawfully appropriated as Russian state property by presidential decree.

The report highlights Rosatom’s collaboration with the Russian military in conducting a “systematic, widespread campaign of abductions, torture, and murder of ZNPP staff and Enerhodar residents.” It is estimated that one thousand individuals have been tortured in this campaign, which includes, but is not limited to, acts such as:

● aggravated assaults and vicious beatings

● strangulation and suffocation

● electric torture

● forcing victims to dig their own graves

● mock executions

● threats of rape of victims and their relatives

● keeping detainees in overcrowded chambers with no food, water, or fresh air.

At least one person has been confirmed to be tortured to death.

Having introduced the systematic practice of torturing disloyal ZNPP workers for refusing to cooperate with Rosatom, the Russian military created a network of torture chambers, part of which is located on the territory of the ZNPP industrial zone, which is managed by Rosatom. This is evidenced by the survey of witnesses of war crimes committed by Russians at the ZNPP, which was conducted by the Association of Relatives of Kremlin Political Prisoners. According to information published in the media by the mayor of Energodar, Dmytro Orlov, at least 1,500 ZENZ workers and citizens have already passed through the torture chambers at the ZNPP and in Energodar, with around 100 people constantly held captive. Repression, oppression, persecution and illegal imprisonment, which were used by the Russian military with the support of the Rosatom leadership, devastated the city. Of the 55,000 residents who lived there before the invasion of the Russian occupying forces, up to 10,000 Ukrainian citizens were forced to stay in the city.

Witnesses confirm that while Rosatom employees and agents might not directly engage in the acts of torture, they possess full awareness of these practices. Their complicity is highlighted by the understanding that without their knowledge or tacit approval, the perpetration of torture would not have been possible. The report confirms that “[t]here is clear, verifiable evidence that Rosatom, as a state-run agency, and as represented by its individual employees, has been and remains fully aware of the scale of this active torture network operating within ZNPP.”

As stated in the Truth Hounds report, on October 5th, 2020, Rosatom officially joined the UN Global Compact. At the same time, Rosatom issued the necessary Letter of Commitment confirming its support for the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact regarding respect for human rights, the environment and the fight against corruption.

General Director of Rosatom Oleksiy Likhachev stated: “Through its activities, Rosatom seeks to create favourable conditions for human life.” In particular, Rosatom undertook to comply with Principles 1 and 2 of the UN Global Compact, which mandate “support and respect for the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights” and ensuring that “businesses are not complicit in human rights abuses.”

Furthermore, according to Principle 11 of the UNGPs: “Business enterprises should respect human rights. This means that they should avoid infringing on the human rights of others and should address adverse human rights impacts with which they are involved.” Eliminating the adverse impact on human rights requires taking adequate measures to prevent, mitigate and, if necessary, compensate for the damage.

Despite the constant presence at the ZNPP since the first weeks of the Russian occupation and official responsibility for its operation since October, the Truth Hounds report claims, Rosatom does not appear to have created or implemented any due diligence mechanisms to mitigate the negative consequences of its involvement in the operation of the plant.

On the contrary, Rosatom’s presence at the ZNPP is characterized by abuses, kidnappings, and cruel treatment of ZNPP employees and their families. The context of the ongoing armed conflict should prompt Rosatom, which is increasingly responsible for the operation of the ZNPP (despite the illegal occupation), to exercise particular caution.

Eyewitnesses provided Truth Hounds with clear, unequivocal descriptions of torture and other crimes, including, but not limited to, aggravated assault and severe beatings, strangulation, electric shocks, forcing victims to dig their own graves, mock executions, threats against rape victims and their relatives, detention detained in overcrowded cells without food, water or fresh air. At the ZNPP, employees are simply kidnapped from their workplaces, taken for interrogation, or tortured by FSB officers, often with the participation and knowledge of Rosatom employees or agents. Witnesses interviewed by Truth Hounds report that although Rosatom employees are not usually directly involved in acts of torture, they are fully aware of the practice of torture and that “without their knowledge [the torture] would not be possible.” Despite active cooperation with the occupation authorities, Rosatom has never raised the issue of serious human rights violations against ZNPP workers.

Thus, in light of the Truth Hounds investigation, Rosatom does not take adequate measures to eliminate gross violations of workers’ rights, mitigate the negative consequences caused by ineffective management of the ZNPP, and violates its corporate due diligence obligations set forth in Principles 11-13 of the UNGPs, and Principles 1-2 of the UN Global Compact. Rosatom contributes to the most serious violations of international law - torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It does so without proper human rights due diligence, in the context of an increased risk of human rights violations and despite direct evidence of such violations at its facilities.

Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is a violation of the imperative norms of international law, prohibited by Art. 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Art. 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, Art. 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, articles 32 and 147 of the Convention (IV) for the Protection of the Civilian Population in Time of War (Geneva Convention IV), article 75(2) of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, relating to the protection of victims international armed conflicts.

Given the outlined details, Rosatom’s actions potentially breach:

● Principles 11-13 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

● Article 3 European Convention of Human Rights

● Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

● Articles 32 and 147 of Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (“GC IV”)

● Article 75(2) of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949

● The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

● Article 8(2)(a)(ii) of the Rome Statute

● Article 7(1)(f) of the Rome Statute

● Article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute

Despite clear evidence that Rosatom staff were engaged in a common purpose with the Russian occupying forces, which resulted in the torture, intimidation, and mistreatment of Ukrainian personnel and their families, Rosatom’s involvement in these actions has not led to significant impacts in its “operations, contracts, and other agreements.” The ongoing unchanged business relationships and agreements with Rosatom in the face of such serious allegations, which include risking lives, compromising safety, property damage, and environmental hazards such as radiation exposure and the release of nuclear substances, raises questions about the need for accountability of Rosatom, further imposition of sanctions, and enforcement of corporate due diligence obligations.

In light of the information presented, it is our firm belief that Rosatom’s ongoing association as a participant in the UN Global Compact not only undermines the core mission of the UNGC but also validates and legitimizes Rosatom’s contribution and complicity in the acts contrary to international human rights and humanitarian law.

We are therefore writing to request that Rosatom be expelled from the UN Global Compact.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to your quick action in addressing this critical issue.


B4Ukraine Coalition

5am Coalition

Center for Civil Liberties


Association of Relatives of Kremlin Political Prisoners

Centre for Global Studies

Strategy XXI

Dixi Group

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