The Need for the Enforcement of Environmental Standards in the Iranian Oil and Gas Industry: Narrowing the Accountability Gap

Naimeh Masumy


Although the oil and gas industry has boosted Iran’s economic development, it has adversely affected the ecosystems of certain regions. The government has failed to establish appropriate environmental regulations to prevent industry from engaging in environmentally damaging projects. Indigenous peopleliving in naturally oil- and gas-rich areas already experience conditions of severe social disadvantage,and are additionally subject to suffering the consequences of an unregulated oil and gas industry. Major shortcomings in national environmental law and the lack of effective compliance mechanisms have left indigenous people without recourse to legal action. This paper critiques the existing legal frameworks and identifies the deficiencies in their accountability mechanisms, that is, the methods by which affected groups may hold companies responsible for environmental harms in the context of oil and gas exploration projects. It also scrutinises the non-compulsory nature of current international standards. This paper contends that, at present, companies are not obligated to adhere to these standards, which renders them ineffective. It argues for an alternative legal framework that can facilitate accountability in the Iranian environmental regulation system.


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