Articles Tagged ‘ human rights ’

Reducing Poverty and Protecting the Environment: Can the World Bank Do Both?

Vinod Thomas

The World Bank Group’s mission is to reduce poverty. The Bank also works toward environmental sustainability. What’s the link between them, and does its practice on the ground promote both priorities? That’s the question posed by the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group or IEG in a recent audit of the Bank’s funding projects. The results? Disappointing. CWR co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue speak with Vinod Thomas, Director-General of the IEG about the report. The IEG is producing a follow-up report focusing directly on the effectiveness of the the World Bank Group’s environmental and social sustainability safeguards and standards.

Vinod Thomas

Environmental Sustainability: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Support

CWR Headlines:

Russian-Georgian War Could Mean a New Cold War Between Russia and the West
Wal-Mart Wants to Keep Green Definitions Fuzzy

Web Extra: Full interview with Peter Zeihan of Stratfor on the Russia-Georgia War

Steve Herz

CWR ViewPoint:  read

Steve Herz comments on how International Finance Corporation social standards fail to protect against human rights abuses. Herz recently co-authored a report on the human rights performance of the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards and the Equator Principles. The analysis was conducted in partnership with the World Resources Institute, the Center for International Environmental Law, the Bank Information Center, BankTrack, and Oxfam Australia. Herz practices international, environmental, and human rights law in Oakland, CA.

The International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards and the Equator Principles: Respecting Human Rights and Remedying Violations?

Bob Monks: ExxonMobil Exemplifies Corpocracy

CorpocracyBob Monks
The ExxonMobil annual shareholder meeting this year carried high expectations from shareholder activists. Members of the Rockefeller family, descending from the founder of the Standard Oil monopoly that splintered into Exxon and Mobil, attended the meeting to support four different shareholder resolutions on corporate governance and climate change. Of these four, the resolution supported by most Rockefellers asked the company to split the CEO and Board Chair positions. Today’s CWR guest, Bob Monks, has filed this resolution at ExxonMobil since the early 2000s. His struggle to hold ExxonMobil accountable exemplifies the broader struggle to hold corporations accountable described in his new book, Corpocracy. Monks is co-founder of Institutional Shareholder Services, The Corporate Library, Lens Governance Advisors, and a former Labor Department official in the Reagan Administration.

Bob Monks’ Website

Corpocracy: How CEOs and the Business Roundtable Hijacked the World’s Greatest Wealth Machine — And How to Get It Back

Web extra: Bob Monks chats with CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon about the US presidential candidates’ ability to take on corpocracy. Listen

CWR Headlines:

ExxonMobil loses appeal to Supreme Court on human rights abuse case

CWR ViewPoint:  read (Thanks to our partner CSRwire for posting text of CWR commentaries.)

Longtime shareholder activist Steve Viederman presented this statement at the ExxonMobil Annual Meeting in May 2008 to introduce resolution 19 asking Exxon to adopt a renewable energy policy. He filed the resolution along with other individuals, families, foundations and religious orders, joined by 20 institutional investors worth over $740 billion in combined assets, including Exxon Mobil stock valued at more than $8.6 billion.

Steve Viederman Bio

Business as the Cause and Solution of Global Crises

Gary Hirshberg

Gary Hirshberg

CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon speak with Gary Hirshberg, CEO of organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, and author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World. Hirshberg believes that business is a necessary force for creating a sustainable economy and society, as outlined in his book. Yet he admits that business is a primary cause of our current unsustainable economy, a seeming contradiction that he explains in our conversation.

Stonyfield Farm

Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World

Chevron Donates $2 m in Disaster Relief to Burma but New Report Charges the Company with Abetting Human Rights Abuses
Military Contractor in Iraq Hires Translators Who Can’t Translate, Putting Iraqi and US Lives at Risk
Climate Counts Releases 2008 Ranking of Commitment by Companies to Reversing Climate Change

Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, provides commentary on a recent Ceres report examining how mainstream mutual funds vote on shareholder resolutions that urge companies to address climate change. A 2004 SEC rule requires mutual funds to disclose their proxy voting records each year. The report finds that mainstream mutual fund opposition to climate resolutions is thawing–but ironically, support for climate resolutions is also decreasing. Filling this gap is abstentions, which have doubled from 2004 to 2007. For the sake of disclosure, CWR co-host Bill Baue co-authored the report.

Ceres

Ceres Report: Mutual Funds and Climate Change: Opposition to Climate Change Resolutions Begins to Thaw

Activist Investors Promote Genocide-Free Mutual Funds

CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon speak with Eric Cohen, chairperson for Investors against Genocide and Tim Smith, senior vice president at Walden Asset Management and immediate past chair of the Social Investment Forum, about the campaign promoting targeted divestment by mutual funds from companies supporting the Khartoum regime in the Sudan.

Smith, who helped pioneer the practice of shareholder activism encouraging companies to adopt more sustainable and responsible practices as a founder of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, discusses the novelty and efficacy of engaging mutual funds, which has rarely been practiced until now.

Eric Cohen

Eric Cohen

Cohen explains the strategy in-depth, noting that the SEC upheld its validity after mutual fund giant Fidelity challenged it legally. He also cites a 2007 survey in which 71% of respondents said that mutual fund companies should take into account extreme cases of human rights abuses when investing overseas, rather than make their investment decisions on economic criteria alone.

edited transcript of this interview on SocialFunds.com

Investors against Genocide

Fidelity Confirms Vote on Genocide-free Investing

Walden Asset Management

Social Investment Forum

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

July 5, 2006 edition of CWR: “Sudan Divestment”

May 22, 2007 SocialFunds article: “Fidelity Divests Large Chunk of Sudan-Related Holdings”

July 21, 2006 SocialFunds article: “Filing Resolutions at Mutual Funds: The Next Frontier for Shareowner Activism?”

March 9, 2006 SocialFunds article: “Sudan Presents Investment Risk as Genocidal Regime and State Sponsor of Terrorism”

June 1, 2005 SocialFunds article: “Students and States Seek to End Genocide in Sudan Through Divestment Campaigns”

December 10, 2004 SocialFunds article: “Divesting From Genocide: A Conversation with Eric Reeves of the Divest Sudan Campaign”

December 14, 2004 SocialFunds article: “Divesting from Genocide: More Conversation with Eric Reeves of the Divest Sudan Campaign”

Shareowner Activism Promotes Peace in Israel and Palestine

Cecilie-SuraskyCecilie Surasky of Jewish Voice for Peace and Michael Passoff of the As You Sow Foundation discuss the shareowner resolution they filed with Caterpillar over the Israeli Defense Forces’ use of their bulldozers to commit human rights abuses in the occupied territories. Bill Somplatsky-Jarman of the Presbyterian Church USA discusses how its Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee is engaging Caterpillar, Citigroup, Motorolla, United Technologies, and ITT to promote peaceful solutions to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

SocialFunds article: Semantics and Semitics: Presbyterian Church Investment to Focus on Israeli-Palestinian Peace

SocialFunds article: Caterpillar Bulldozes Shareowner Concern Over Aiding Alleged Israeli War Crimes

SocialFunds article: To Divest or Not to Divest: Ethical Considerations of Addressing the Israel-Palestine Conflict

SocialFunds article: Addressing the Israel-Palestine Conflict Through Shareowner Action and Selective Divestment

CWR: Redesigning the Corporation – Part II

MarjorieKellyGuests Marjorie Kelly and Allen White go into more depth on their efforts in Corporation2020 to redesign the corporation. They discuss the need to realign the purpose of the corporation so that it does not undermine societal well-being, and how to ensure that corporations do not undermine human rights — ending the fiction of “corporate personhood” that has enabled corporations to undermine politics and public policy. The show also includes recent success stories in Humboldt County, CA and Franklin County, PA.

Coca Cola and Human Rights

Coca Cola faces human rights and environmental charges in India and Columbia. Amnesty International targets Yahoo for cooperating with Chinese government to jail a dissident. Guests include Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, Camilo Romero Students Against Sweatshops, Kari Bjorhus of Coca Cola, Ann Corbett and Simon Billeness of Amnesty International.

Coke in India
IndiaResource.org

Coke in Columbia:
Studentsagainstsweatshops.org
Killercoke.org

Coca Cola Environmental Report

Amnesty International

Get on the Bus

Thanks to Stephen Post for editing of this program.

Independent Monitoring of Corporations: Verite’

dan_viedermanDan Viederman, executive director of Verite’, a nonprofit that monitors factories globally for compliance with human and labor rights codes.

Discussion touches on Verité’s work with the Gap on its groundbreaking Social Responsibility Report that disclosed for the first time labor rights violations; Verité’s new report on exploitation of foreign contract laborers in Asia and the Middle East; the challenges of maintaining independence from corporate clients.

Links:

Verite

Verite Report Identifies Exploitation of Foreign Contract Laborers in Asia and the Middle East

Gap-Verite Collaboration Exemplifies Award-Winning Practice on Social Responsibility

CalPERS Divests from Four Emerging Countries

CWR: Environment and Human Rights: Chevron in Ecuador

Chevron’s accountability for the legacy of environmental destruction and health impacts from oil exploitation by subsidiary Texaco in the Oriente region of Ecuador from 1964-1992. We speak with Cristobal Bonifaz, lead attorney in the Maria Aguinda Salazar v. ChevronTexaco class-action lawsuit filed in Lago Agrio, Ecuador (after navigating US courts for a decade) in May 2003 by 88 Ecuadorians representing 30,000 indigenous community members and settlers, and currently in the inspection phase visiting the 627 unlined pits where toxic “formation waters” (which accompany oil when extracted) were dumped.

We also speak with leslieloweLeslie Lowe, director of the Energy and Environment program for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a coalition of 275 faith-based institutional investors with more than $110 billion in assets whose members filed 3 shareholder resolutions this year at Chevron related directly or indirectly to the Ecuador environmental and human rights problems. Ms. Lowe visited the affected regions in March of this year as a member of a delegation of Chevron shareholders–including the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS–the largest US pension fund) on a fact-finding mission.

Finally, Corporate Watchdog Radio correspondent David Poritz, who runs a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Ecuador called Esperanza that brings shoes to the affected communities as well as bringing students to the region to give them a first hand experience seeing the contamination, speaks with ethnobiologist Dr. Estella de la Torre in the Secoya community of San Pablo, where she does research.

Links:

Oil Spread Upon the Waters of Ecuador May Return Harm for ChevronTexaco Shareholders
(pic) (part 1 of 3-part article)

Asphalt Jungle: Did Oil Drilling by Texaco Create Environmental and Social Harm in Ecuador? (part 2 of 3-part article)

Ecuadorian Attorney General Tells ChevronTexaco Shareholders Remediation Agreement May Be Invalid (part 3 of 3-part article)

New Document Alleges Tie Between Chevron and Human Rights Abuses in Nigeria
(part 1 of 2-part article)

Lack of Human Rights Policy Concerns Chevron Shareowners in Light of Unocal Merger
(part 2 of 2-part article)