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ICP Asks UN Global Compact's Kingo If Arms Trade Can Join, Yes If Legal, She Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- When new UN Global Compact chief Lisa Kingo took questions about upcoming private sector events on September 21, Inner City Press asked for her view on the need for substantive standards for this UN program, to avoid "blue-washing." Video here.

  Kingo replied that the focus on the Global Compact is on reports. Inner City Press asked, then, if arms manufacturers or traders could join.

 Kingo replied that "illegal areas like the ones you mentioned" couldn't join.

 But, Inner City Press pointed out, armed manufacturing and trading is legal. She replied that "special kinds of bombs" might not be. So: no standards? We'll have more on this.

Back on June 25, 2015, the UN Global Compact was studied and praised in a 205 page study by DNL-GL. Inner City Press asked DNL-GL's Henrik Madsen if he has listened to critics of the Compact as "bluewashing," having as members banks like HSBC which engage in tax evasion and predatory lending.

  Madsen replied that he would be telling companies later in the day that they should pay their taxes. Fine - but HSBC has helped its customer to evade taxes. What about that?

  Georg Kell of the Compact said Madsen will be joining the Compact board of directors; earlier he said he's told the Compact principles are in the Koran.

 Inner City Press asked about Westpac, which cut remittances to Somalia. This was not directly answered.

Back on June 5 financial inclusion was the topic at the UN when Queen Maxima of the Netherlands held a press conference at the UN, for which she's the the “Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.”

  Inner City Press asked Queen Maxima what she has done on the issue of banks like Barclays and Westpac cutting of remittances to Somalia. Video here.

   Queen Maxima, who had cited remittances in her opening statement, replied among other things that banks take a “risk-based approach,” and that the smaller profits they make on remittances make them cut them off. 

  It is on just this type of thinking, we'd say, that this UN office ought to be raising its voice, for example in the case of Westpac, which is a member of the UN Global Compact.

 Inner City Press also asked Queen Maxima if UN agencies like UNRWA and UNHCR are working on the issue of the unbanked, trying to ensure that the payments they make help recipients to establish bank accounts. This too is unclear - the answer was that the UN is studying this, is producing knowlege. It will be good to produce results. We will stay on this.


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