Correlation" of Labor Rights and Supermarkets in UN Global Compact,
Kell Says No Quotes
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 30 -- A study of whether European supermarket chains
take seriously labor rights in the developing world was presented at
the UN on March 30, and some of the companies scoring lowest turned
out to be members of the UN Global Compact, through which companies
claim to sign on to labor rights principles.
City Press asked the presenter of the study, Catherine Nicholson of
Consumers International, about the UN Global Compact. She replied
that in the study, each firm was asked if it had signed on to the
Compact. The study looked at this, compared to operations policies of
"real benefit on the ground," and found "no
correlation." Video here,
from Minute 14:20. Ms. Nicholson said,
"that needs to be fed back."
who in the UN is listening? Outside a meeting of the Global Compact's
board of directors on March 25, Inner City Press sought to get some
answers from board members. "You can't quote anything said
here," the Compact's Georg Kell said.
City Press asked Kell if there would be any media availability by the
Compact's directors. No, he said. Despite later complaints to Compact
staff, and what seemed to be a commitment to provide some answers,
including on Compact members' investments in Myanmar, nothing came.
was no time, it was explained to Inner City Press. But the Compact
had professional video and still photographers posing the Compact
board members in the UN lobby, to some future promotion. No time?
Compact member Casino, the French supermarket firm, Ms. Nicholson
said "there is not enough information" and "they are
not willing to share it." She might well have been speaking of
the UN Global Compact itself.
Georg Kell, Vijay Nambiar, S-G Ban and Moody-Stuart,
page for the study, here, ends with the tease,
"an in-depth investigation into one supply chain is currently
under way. This will be presented in the form of a documentary film
in late 2010." Inner City Press asked what type of supply chain
-- "fruit or vegetable?" Video here,
from Minute 25:41.
Ms. Nicholson replied,
"Tropical." She added, "fruited," and committed
to send more information later. Watch this site.
* * *
Guatemalan President Admits Mining Abuse, Goldcorp Challenged, on Laws,
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 17 -- Abuse by mining firms of rural Guatemala,
particularly indigenous communities, has become systemic. Even
President Alvaro Colom, when asked Wednesday by Inner City Press at
the UN about the abuses had to admit that the current law "is
not suitable." Video here,
from Minute 18:32.
asked President Colom whether his government will respect the
decision of several communities to be "mine free." Colom
replied that "with respect to mines and the mining law, promoted
in 1997, honestly, it's a bad law... Not only when it comes to
royalties [but also] environment and natural resources [and] the
rights of indigenous people to give their opinion."
signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous People,
and Colom says his government will abide by it. He said he has not
issued a single new mining license. The former government, he said,
did authorize many, some of which have been frozen.
not enough. In late 2009, for example, Maudilia
Lopez Cardona and Carmen Mejia Aguilar on behalf of the residents of
San Miguel Ixtahuacan, a municipality in southwestern Guatemala
traveled to Canada to file a complaint with the government against
They documented that Goldcorp's "Marlin mine
water supplies and damaged homes while the company harassed
protesters." The complaint was submitted under Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines for
multinational firms. We'll see.
President Colom, pointing finger (elsewhere) at UN
President Colom also spoke, with Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon
and then the Press, about the UN affiliated International Commission
against Impunity in Guatemala. Inner City Press previously
interviewed the head of CICIG Carlos Castresana on such topics as his
prosecution of the murders of bus drivers and his advocacy for a
President Colom on Wednesday, when Inner City
Press asked about
the rejection of the Commission's recommendation that three "corrupt"
judges not be put on the Supreme Court, cited the Commission's work
on the wiretapping law, as well as on an updated arms and munitions
law. He said he did not intervene in the placing of the three judges
on the court due to separation of powers. "If we don't want
impunity, we have to respect the division of powers," he said. Again,