Groups Expose More United Nations Affiliations with Corporate Predators

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Non-governmental organizations have sent a letter to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata and UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy calling for their resignation from the Business Humanitarian Forum (BHF).

The BHF is a new private group Co-Chaired by UNHCR's Ogata and John Imle
President of UNOCAL, a corporation notorious for human rights abuses in
Burma. Its complicity with the brutal Burmese military dictatorship in
using forced labor on a natural gas pipeline is well known.

"UNOCAL has done so much harm to my country. It is discouraging to find respected UN agencies sharing the podium with companies like UNOCAL, especially to those of us who are fighting every day against their human rights abuses," said Ka Hsaw Wa, Director of EarthRights International, one of the signatories of the letter.

Forum members also include UNICEF, and Nestle a company which
continues to violate a UN code of conduct on infant formula designed to
protect children.

The letter, which is also signed by the International Baby Food Action
Network says it is "ironic and disturbing that UNHCR would share this
platform with a company [UNOCAL] with practices so antithetical to its own
mission... [and] that UNICEF, with its mission to protect children, would
voluntarily associate with a company [Nestle] which has done so much to
harm children.

The Business Humanitarian Forum, based in Geneva, is supported by UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has called for a compact between the UN
and corporations.

"This is one more example of why the UN must fundamentally reconsider the
partnerships it is embarking on with global corporations," said Joshua
Karliner, Director of CorpWatch, a San Francisco-based human rights and environment group and a signator to the letter. "So far the way UN agencies have implemented Kofi Annan's call for a closer relationship with the private sector is to jump into bed with a bunch of bad corporate actors."

Last March, over one hundred groups, including the signatories to the
letter sent yesterday, called for the dissolution of the UNDP's planned
collaboration with private companies such as Dow, Rio Tinto and ABB. That
collaboration, the Global Sustainable Development Facility, is on hold
pending review by the UNDP.

Letter and background material are available at www.corpwatch.org/un

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