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Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN Campaign Profile

Kenny Bruno, 718-832-5434

March 22nd, 2001

For the past two years CorpWatch has been part of an international coalition of organizations that has exposed the flawed human rights and environmental records of companies forming partnerships with the UN. CorpWatch is the Secretariat of this coalition, now known as the Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN. The Alliance continues to call on the UN to forgo such collaborations and play the more appropriate role of counterbalancing corporate-led globalization and institutions such as the WTO.

"Several watchdog groups said the United Nations was participating in a 'bluewash,' allowing some of the largest and richest corporations to wrap themselves in the United Nations' blue flag without requiring them to do anything new ...They wrote to Mr. Annan that some of the participants-the letter cited Nike, Shell and Rio Tinto, the British-Australian mining company-had poor records of operating abroad and did not deserve to be United Nations partners." The New York Times, July 27, 2000.

Current Focus

The members of the Alliance believe in a United Nations which:

  • holds commercial rules subservient to human rights, labor and environmental principles,
  • avoids excessive and undue corporate influence,

  • holds corporations accountable in a legal framework,

  • maintains integrity of international social and environmental agreements,

  • receives adequate funding from governments.

The Alliance has three main activities:

  1. Monitoring and exposing corporate partnerships and undue corporate influence at the UN.

  2. Taking action to pressure the UN to avoid such partnerships and influence.

  3. Promoting and supporting UN-related measures to hold corporations accountable.

Steering Committee
CorpWatch (US)-Secretariat
Brazilian Institute for Social and Economic Analysis (Brazil)
Corporate Europe Observatory (the Netherlands)
Council on International and Public Affairs (US)
Focus on the Global South (Thailand)
Institute for Policy Studies (US)
International Baby Food Action Network (Switzerland)
International NGO Committee on Human Rights in Trade and Investment (India)
Tebtebba Foundation (The Philippines)
Third World Institute (Uruguay)
Third World Network (Malaysia)
Women's Environment and Development Organization (US)

What has been done so far?

  • NGOs issue a "Citizens Compact" in Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2000, as an alternative to the Global Compact. More than 80 NGOs sign-on.

  • UN Development Programme drops planned partnerships with corporations following an international campaign by NGOs. See media release.

  • An international sign-on letter to Sadako Ogata, then UN High Commissioner for Refugees, exposes her co-chairmanship of the Business Humanitarian Forum with Unocal, a company notorious for complicity in human rights abuses in Burma.

  • An international sign-on letter is sent to Kofi Annan in response to the launch of the Global Compact. The letter is quoted extensively in the New York Times and other media and generates strong pubic debate. The letter is signed by more than 88 environmental, human rights and labor organizations and networks from around the world.

  • CorpWatch releases a comprehensive critique of the UN-corporate partnerships, Tangled Up in Blue: Corporate Partnerships at the United Nations, at the Millenium Summit in September 2000.

  • In September 2000, the global coalition that had developed to protest the increasing corporatization of the UN formally becomes the Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN-an international group of several dozen organizations and networks. CorpWatch becomes the secretariat of the group.

  • Alliance members participate in events at both the World Economic Forum in Davos, and the World Social Forum in Brazil, and again call on Secretary General Kofi Annan to reconsider his approach to UN-corporate partnerships.

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