Below is a partial list of some of the 50 Global Compact partners with the most egregious human rights and environmental records.
Shell is a corporation with a history of environmental destruction and complicity in human rights abuses, most infamously in Nigeria. Ken Saro-Wiwa blamed his execution squarely on Shell. Its operations there are also notorious for environmental contamination and double standards. Shell has adopted sophisticated rhetoric about its social responsibilities, but it has not shown understanding, let alone remorse, about its own role. For example, on its website, Shell posts a photograph of a pro-Ogoni rally, without acknowledging that the Ogoni people's protests have been against Shell itself.
BP Amoco is another company with sophisticated rhetoric on environmental and social issues. But their actions do not measure up. CEO John Browne admits that climate change is a problem for any oil company, yet his company continues to search for oil and gas even in remote and pristine regions. Its investments in renewable energy are a pittance compared with the size of the corporation and its investments in ongoing fossil fuel exploration and production.
Nike, an international symbol of sweatshops and corporate greed, is the target of one of the most active global campaigns for corporate accountability. The company has made announcements of changes to its behavior only after enormous public pressure. It has also aggressively opposed the only union and human rights-group supported independent monitoring program-the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). CEO Phil Knight withdrew a $30 million donation to the University of Oregon after the University joined the WRC. Nike also cut its multimillion dollar contracts with the University of Michigan and Brown University after they joined the WRC. Nike became a sweatshop poster child not just through complicity in labor abuses but through active searching for countries with non-union labor, low wages, and low environmental standards for its manufacturing operations. Nike is a leader in the "race to the bottom"-a trend that epitomizes the negative tendencies of corporate-led globalization.
Rio Tinto Plc is a British mining corporation which has created so many environment, human rights, and development problems that a global network of trade unions, indigenous peoples, church groups, communities and activists has emerged to fight its abuses. For instance, the company stands accused of complicity in or direct violations of environmental, labor and human rights in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Namibia, Madagascar, the United States and Australia, among others.
Novartis is engaged in an aggressive public relations and regulatory battle to force consumers and farmers to accept genetically engineered agriculture, without full testing for potential harms and without full access to information. The behavior of Novartis in the area of genetically engineered agriculture is diametrically opposed to the precautionary principle, one of the principles of the Global Compact.
Other companies with damaging or controversial practices in the Global Compact include Aracruz Cellulose, targeted by Brazilian activists, Aventis, one of the companies behind the $50 million per year PR campaign to gain acceptance for transgenic foods, German chemical giants Bayer and BASF, DuPont of ozone depletion infamy, and DaimlerChrysler, the auto maker with the highest proportion of gas guzzling SUV's on the American market.