quinta-feira, 5 de março de 2009

BASF's Global Compact adherence questioned

BASF is member of UN's corporate social responsibility initiative Global Compact. But to Inner City Press, the company still refuses to disclose their "expert opinion" as to why they believe their imports of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara is legal. See video from the UN.

At UN, BASF Dodges W. Sahara Phosphorus Fall-Out, Global Compact's PetroChina Denial

Inner City Press
2 March 2009
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
See more about the question to BASF on the pages of Inner City Press.

UNITED NATIONS, March 2 -- When the UN Global Compact held a meeting on "current anti-corruption efforts by its corporate participants" last week, there were more than a few ironies. Chosen by the Compact as its corporate participant and thus poster-child was the chemical firm BASF. But when Inner City Press asked BASF's chief compliance officer Eckart Suenner about alleged irregularities in his firm's export of phosphate from the contested territory of Western Sahara, and the firm's refusal to make public an expert opinion it claims legitimates the transfer, Suenner dodged the question.

Not only at the press conference on February 26, when he said while he hadn't heard about, BASF has policies on "dual use and stuff," but in the three days since Inner City Press sent him evidence of the refusal of Anne Forst of BASF's "Sustainability Center" to provide the expert opinion, no response from BASF has been received. The inquiry focused on a shipment of 25,000 tons of phosphates from the Bu Craa mines in Western Sahara, carried by the ship Novigrad to the harbor of Ghent.

While the Global Compact claims to be moving toward increased transparency and credibility, its board recently dismissed a detailed complaint against PetroChina and subsidiaries for their activities in Sudan. Faced with widespread protest of the dismissal, the Compact's Sir Mark Moody-Stuart has written that the issue will be re-visited at an upcoming meeting of the Compact's board.

Inner City Press on February 26 asked when this will take place, and for the views on the matter of another participant, Jermyn Brooks, head of Global Private Sector Programs of Transparency International. Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell argued that PetroChina is not a member of the Compact, only its subsidiary CNPC is. Video here, from Minute 17:20.

In fact, the opposite appears to be true. In any event, should Compact participants be hiding behind a shell game of subsidiaries, in which all members of a conglomerate can cite an affiliate's membership in the UN Global Compact, but the most controversial parts of the company can say it was not them who joined?

TI's Jermyn Brooks, who gave a detailed answer to Inner City Press' question about gray money being used to bolster the reeling banking sector, at least admitted he was "ducking" the PetroChina question, saying he doesn't have enough information. When he does, and when the Compact board revisits the question -- Kell would not give a date -- we will have more on these matters.

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