Koffi Annan: Who are you kidding?
Mr Kofi Annan, UN secretary general, put forward a proposal at last year's Davos meeting to encourage large corporations to champion UN environmental and social causes. It was called the "Global Compact", and provided a logo to be used by companies to display and mislead the unwary into believing that the corporations were contributing to environmental protection. A list of companies reads like a who's who in pollution and suppression of labour rights. Shell — implicated in many countries in environmental damage and human rights abuses hasn't changed its spots. It was revealed recently that Shell plans to drill for oil and gas in the Kathir National Park in Pakistan and in the Sundarbans World Heritage Site in Bangladesh. Shell is active in corporate lobby groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, the Business Roundtable and the International Chamber of Commerce. It lobbied hard to undermine progress in the international climate negotiations. Shell had more than 40 lobbyists in the Hague last November. Figures show that Shell commits less than one percent of its total annual expenditure to renewable energy and climate friendly activities. The rest goes towards increased investments in fossil fuel extraction and exploitation. Rio Tinto Rio Tinto — has fingers in many pies and they are all dirty. Jabiluka uranium mine in the Northern Territory was recently bought by Rio Tinto. Failure to respect the rights of traditional owners is nothing new to the company which is also involved in the Freeport McMoran gold and copper mine in West Papua. The company faces grassroots opposition to its practices from the Philippines to the Czech Republic. Swiss bank UBS is the largest of the Swiss banks and was recently forced to open its accounts to independent inspection. The inspection revealed that the bank had withheld information about "dormant" accounts belonging to Jewish customers, many victims of the fascist regime in Germany. It was also revealed that the bank had willingly provided services for the Nazi regime's ruthless appropriation of the assets and valuables of Jewish families, making huge profits in the process. This information was extracted as a result of intense public pressure and the long-time efforts of advocate groups. The bank was not forthcoming with any information and continues its usual business practices. Corporate PR job The "Global Compact" and its lofty principles is just a piece of and has no legally binding or enforceable requirements. It allows companies to use the Compact as a PR exercise to cover their corporate image while continuing their environmentally destructive practices. Other corporations participating in Kofi Annan's sham Compact are: Aventis — proponents of GM goods; Bayer, BP Amoco, BASF, British Telecom, Credit Swisse Group, Dupont, Novartis, Nike, Unilever, Deutsche Bank... Kofi Annan and the UN should stop kidding themselves and attempting to fool the world's people. These companies are not going to put peoples' or environmental interests ahead of their own. The UN should not endorse them in any way.