NCP Denmark publishes Final Statement of complaint against A.P. Moller-Maersk

NCP Denmark concludes the examination of a specific instance (complaint) against A.P. Moller - Maersk submitted by former workers of the joint venture Douala International Terminal S.A. (DIT) in Cameroon. The complaint concerns the operation of a port terminal in the period 2004-2019. Today NCP Denmark publishes the Final Statement in the case.  

The Final Statement was published on 6 May 2024 in both English and Danish. 

  • 3. maj 2024
  • Nyhed

On 19 October 2021 NCP Denmark received a complaint regarding A.P. Moller – Maersk (APMM). The complaint was submitted by 337 former employees of the joint venture Douala International Terminal S.A. (DIT), represented by the attorneys James F. Epo Esq. and Mohamed Djenabou Esq.  

In the Final Statement, NCP Denmark concludes that:

  1. A parent company has a responsibility to facilitate responsible business conduct and that due diligence is carried out – both in its own and subsidiaries’ activities.
  2. APMM did not sufficiently conduct due diligence1 in accordance with the OECD Guidelines from 2011 until the end of the concession agreement in 2019.
  3. APMM did not sufficiently use its leverage2 in its joint venture DIT and thereby did not sufficiently observe the OECD Guidelines as to prevent adverse impacts.
  4. The assertion that APMM did not observe the OECD Guidelines as regards workers’ rights and working conditions is not sufficiently substantiated.

Publishing the Final Statement, the NCP Chair, Linda Nielsen, states:

“This has been a complex case for NCP Denmark as the time span stretches from 2004 until today. In many ways, this case mirrors the international development within the area of responsible business conduct, but it also points to sore spots with Maersk and shows that Maersk has room for improvement. In NCP Denmark, we are happy to conclude this case today and want to extent our gratitude to both parties, who have willingly and patiently answered our questions throughout the case-handling process.”

The Final Statement provides recommendations to APMM on how to better observe the OECD Guidelines, including on improving APMM’s due diligence process and on how APMM can better incorporate human and labour rights and due diligence in APMM’s Joint Venture Framework.  

Read the final statement regarding A.P. Moller-Maersk here (pdf)

1 Due diligence is a process in 6 steps which can help enterprises identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address potential and actual adverse impacts related to people, environment or society. See OECD Due Diligence Guidance 2018 for in-depth descriptions of the due diligence process: OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct (oecd.org).

2 Leverage is considered to exist where the enterprise has the ability to effect change in the wrongful practices of the entity that causes the harm. The enterprise should seek to influence its business relationship to prevent or mitigate the adverse impacts. For more information, see: OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct, 2023 edition (oecd.org).



In 2004 APMM signed a 15-year-long concession agreement regarding the operation of the container terminal in the port of Douala-Bonaberi in Cameroon. In connection with the concession agreement, DIT was established as a joint venture between APMM and the French company Bolloré and the two parties have since 2014 each held 44 per cent of the shares. APMM operated DIT through its subsidiary APM Terminals. The joint venture DIT was excluded from the tender process on continuing operating the container terminal in Douala, and DIT’s operation of the container terminal therefore ended when the concession agreement expired on 31 December 2019.  

The complainant asserts that APMM did not observe the OECD Guidelines as regards DIT. The complainant points to insufficient due diligence, harsh working conditions in DIT and that DIT intentionally withheld the workers’ administrative documents, including their work certificates, after the end of the concession agreement. Furthermore, the complainant asserts that the working conditions in DIT can be characterised as forced labour and that the workers were embezzled of their shareholder rights. APMM does not recognise the assertions and asserts that DIT conducted its business responsibly.  

NCP Denmark dismissed the assertions of forced labour and embezzlement of shareholder rights in the preliminary investigation.  

NCP Denmark is the Danish National Contact Point to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (the OECD Guidelines) and handles specific instances (complaints) concerning potential non-observance of the OECD Guidelines. NCP Denmark is a politically independent non-judicial grievance mechanism established by law in 2012.  

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Do you have any questions?

You are welcome to contact NCP Denmark if you have questions to the specific instance or need advice and guidance.

NCP Danmark

Langelinie Allé 17 
2100 Copenhagen Ø 

E-mail: post@ncp-danmark.dk

The Secretariat: +45 35291576 / +45 35291118

Chair of the NCP: +45 28763123