NGOs Call for Greater Corporate Accountability at Johannesburg
31 January Even as leaders of non-governmental organizations express
their anger against the corporate leaders who are meeting at the World Economic
Forum they say there are also reasons to be hopeful about the World Summit on
Sustainable Development that will take place in Johannesburg from 26 August to
One issue that has been high on the NGO priority list, the issue of corporate
accountability, is now being talked about as a potential area for action at the
Johannesburg Summit, and governments are taking notice.
"Corporate accountability is on the agenda," Daniel Mittler of
Friends of the Earth, International told an NGO press conference held during
the Preparatory Committee meeting for Johannesburg. "We need a convention
on corporate accountability, and work toward a legally binding convention
should start at Johannesburg."
The reason, Mittler said, was that during the years of trade liberalization,
governments gave away their own ability to protect society and the environment.
But he added that even governments have recognized the seriousness of the
issue, and that "we are getting somewhere."
The case of Enron, according to Emmy Hafild, Executive Director of the
Indonesian Environmental Forum, has helped raise awareness of the corporate
responsibility issue. "People realize that these corporations can ruin a
lot of people in seconds."
Kathleen Rogers, President of the Earth Day Network, noted that even President
Bush had mentioned corporate responsibility in his State of the Union address.
She said that NGOs were writing to the President, and other world leaders, to
commit early to go to Johannesburg.
The NGOs also expressed deep reservations with the process of globalization.
Shao Loong Yin of the Third World Network said that the unequal economic power
relationships that exist around the world are the "limiting factor in
letting us realize our dreams." He also stressed that Johannesburg had to
revive the North-South compact from the Rio Earth Summit, which called for all
countries to work toward sustainable development, but with the more developed
countries helping the developing countries with assistance. "The North
must take major action," he said.
Rogers said there were actually two kinds of terrorism plaguing the world right
now: politically driven terrorism such as the attacks on the United States last
September, and another, "quiet" form of economic terrorism. This
terrorism, she said, "takes the form of a mother who wakes up every day
and finds that she cannot feed her child, the man with AIDS who has no means of
getting the drugs he needs, and the man who steals wood in a protected area for
Copyright © United
Department of Economic and
Comments and suggestions
24 August 2006