The East African Court of Justice is set to hear arguments on whether or not it has jurisdiction in a legal battle over the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), with the governments of Uganda and Tanzania among the parties challenging whether the case, brought by activists seeking to stop the EACOP project, can move forward.
The court, established to serve the seven member states of the East African Community (EAC), will begin hearing the case on Wednesday in Arusha. It is brought by human rights and environmental activists, including the Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights based in Uganda, who argue that the pipeline adversely affects the livelihoods and security of communities in its path without properly including them in the process.
EACOP argues otherwise and recently launched a social media campaign to showcase how it has relocated families and consulted with communities while building the pipeline, which has remained controversial since its launch in 2015. Among others, the European Parliament has called for human rights protections during project development.
The EACOP project, with investment from oil major Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, will affect an estimated 118,000 people as it stretches from Lake Albert to the Tanzanian port city of Tanga, with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni vowing that the oil will flow by 2025.
EACOP says that with US$4 billion in foreign investment, the pipeline promises to be transformative for East Africans and their economies. Opponents don’t want additional fossil fuel investment as the world moves toward a renewable energy transition.
Both Uganda and Tanzania, as well as the EAC Secretary General, argue that the work should move forward because the deal was agreed to by sovereign nations that completed adequate environmental and social impact assessments.
Image: East African Community