Groups in Porto Alegre Want Global Compact Put on Ice

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PORTO ALEGRE -- With UN Secretary General Kofi Annan preparing to renew his call for a 'Global Compact' between the UN and big business at the World Economic Forum in Davos, a global alliance of human rights and environmental organizations is calling for a suspension of this messy entaglement between the UN and big business.

The Alliance for a Corporate Free UN is a coalition of human rights and
environmental groups which has repeatedly voiced criticism of the Global
Compact and other UN-corporate partnerships. The Alliance supports the UN,
but has at the same time warned that the Global Compact and related
partnerships 'threaten the mission and integrity of the United Nations.'

"The corporate partners of the Global Compact, notably the International
Chamber of Commerce, have made it clear that their participation requires
the absence of any monitoring or enforcement of their adherence to the
Compact's principles. This alone makes the Global Compact a bad deal for
the UN and for citizen movements fighting for corporate accountability."
said Kenny Bruno of the San Francisco-based Transnational Resource & Action Center/CorpWatch, which serves as Secretariat of the Alliance.

Alliance members also criticized the UN for allowing corporations with poor
human rights and environmental records to wrap themselves in the UN flag.
"The Secretary General is offering legitimacy on the world stage to some of
the same companies against which citizens movements in the Philippines, in
Brazil, and elsewhere, are struggling," said Walden Bello, Executive
Director of Thailand-based Focus on the Global South.

Alliance members, all of whom are allies and supporters of the United
Nations, are unhappy with the growing corporate influence in UN affairs,
and with the Secretary General's lack of responsiveness to his critics.
"We are frustrated that Kofi Annan has not demonstrated more sensitivity to
civil society's concerns about the Global Compact," said Atila Roque of the
Brazilian group IBASE. IBASE has been one of the many groups that have
previously asked the Secretary General to re-think the corporate
partnership policies he has initiated.

"Therefore we are calling on the UN to suspend its activities related to
the Global Compact. And we are reiterating our call for a complete
re-assessemnt of the UN's corporate partnership programs," said Bruno.

Other groups attending the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre that have
joined the call for Kofi Annan to re-assess the Global Compact and
corporate partnerships in general include Red Nacional de Accion Ecologica
(Chile), Council of Canadians, the International Forum On Globalization
(U.S.) and TRAC--Transnational Resource & Action Center/CorpWatch (U.S.).
These groups are also part of the Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN.

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