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Headlines from the front lines
Activists help end flawed UN/corporate partnership
June 20, 2000 @ 05:00:00 am
SAN FRANCISCO and NEW YORK / TRAC / - The Transnational Resource & Action Center (TRAC) has learned that after a year long campaign by environmentalists, human rights groups, labor unions and other non-governmental organizations ...

The Transnational Resource & Action Center (TRAC) has learned that after a year long campaign by environmentalists, human rights groups, labor unions and other non-governmental organizations a leading UN agency abandoned its perilous partnership with a group of transnational corporations whose tarnished human rights, environmental and development records threatened to rub off on the world body.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has canceled plans to create a Global Sustainable Development Facility (GSDF) in partnership with about 15 corporations. The GSDF was to include Dow Chemical, mining giant Rio Tinto, energy conglomerate ABB and biotechnology leader Novartis.

Through the partnership, known as the Global Sustainable Development Facility, UNDP had planned to sell global corporations its international network of offices, high level governmental contacts and its reputation at a bargain price.

"The GSDF was fatally flawed and deserved to die," said Joshua Karliner, Executive Director of TRAC and author of "Perilous Partnership," a report about the program. "We welcome the news and hope that it foreshadows a more principled approach to the relationship between the UN and corporations."

UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown informed members of an NGO advisory panel of his decision to abandon the initiative in late May. The GSDF had come under fire from many NGOs, including TRAC and some of the members of the advisory panel. Last year, over 100 organizations signed a letter to the previous head of UNDP, Gus Speth, calling for GSDF to be abandoned.

The criticisms of the GSDF included associating with corporate bad actors, an over-emphasis on the free market ideology of globalization and development, the danger of "bluewash" by corporations hoping for public relations benefits from wrapping themselves in the flag of the United Nations, and failure to abide by the agency's own guidelines in associating with private companies.

The GSDF was just one of many partnerships with the private sector currently being pursued by the United Nations and many of its agencies.

"Even with the end of the GSDF, we will remain vigilant in tracking other UN-corporate partnerhip programs," said TRAC's UN Project Coordinator Kenny Bruno. "We will also continue to advocate for the UN to monitor corporate behavior rather than partner with these transnational giants."

Contacts: Kenny Bruno 718-8325434, Joshua Karliner 415-561-6567

-end-

Since March 1999, Corporate Watch's parent organization TRAC has been leading a global coalition of groups to document and expose the growing number of partnerships between various UN agencies and corporations with poor human rights and environmental records. We've also been proposing an alternative relationship between the UN and corporations-one where the world body serves as a counterbalance to corporate-led globalization.

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