The Guardian February 7, 2001


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.

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