rn: UNDP solicits funds from corporations


Jan Slakov

Dear RN list,

The UNDP seems to be such a useful program (publishing the Human Development
Report, for instance) so it is particularly dismaying to learn of its being

It would seem that so far it is just one program (The Global Sustainable
Development Facility) which is linked to corporate sponsors and many NGOs
have spoken out for an end to this linkage. If anyone has more information
(i.e. whether or not the UNDP has decided to repond to the concern expressed
by NGOs) do let me know.

all the best, Jan
Date:   Sat, 13 Mar 1999 18:30:58 -0400 (AST)
From: Antoni Wysocki <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Key UN Agency Solicits Funds from Corporations (fwd)


Roger Davies brought my attention to the following media advisory. Further
information - including copies of the leaked documents cited below - can
be found at <http://www.corpwatch.org/trac/undp/index.html>. 



                Key United Nations Agency Solicits
                        Funds From Corporations

Corporate Watchdog Leaks UN Plan

           Press Release
           March 12, 1999

New York, NY-- In a sharp detour from its mission of serving the world's
poor, a key UN agency, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
has solicited funds from global corporations with tarnished records on
human rights, labor and the environment.

An internal UNDP memo obtained by the Transnational Resource and Action
Center (the San Francisco-based corporate watchdog that released Ernst &
Young's audit of a Nike' factory in Vietnam last year) reveals that UNDP
has approached at least 30 major global corporations and at least eleven
are paying $50,000 each to UNDP for privileges that flow from this
patronage. As part of its plan, the UNDP appears to be considering special
UNDP sanctioned logos for use by corporate sponsors.

Called the "Global Sustainable Development Facility"(GSDF), the plan calls
for corporate sponsors to funnel donations to a separarate entity, which
they will manage. Sponsors will "benefit from the advice and support of
UNDP through a special relationship" according to the internal memo. 
Participation in the GSDF will afford corporations unprecedented access to
UNDP's network of offices, high level governmental contacts and its

"We fear these global corporations care more about 'greenwashing' their
own tarnished public images than about meeting the pressing needs of the
world's poor," said Joshua Karliner, Executive Director of the
Transnational Resource and Action Center (TRAC). He adds, "The needs of
poor communities around the world constantly conflict with corporate
goals. Corporations often use child labor, obstruct trade unions, and
engage in practices that destroy natural resources and pollute poor

In a letter to UNDP Administrator Gus Speth, copied to UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan, prestigious NGOs from around the world today called on
UNDP to "halt its Global Sustainable Development Facility project and in
so doing preserve the credibility of its mission to serve the world's
poor." The letter was signed by such prominent international figures as
Upendra Baxi, the former Vice Chancellor of India's premiere university,
the University of Delhi, and SM Mohamed Idris, President of the
Malaysia-based Third World Network, one of the South's most highly
respected centers of research and analysis.

The GSDF project reflects a broader trend of growing UN collaboration with
transnational corporations. Secretary General Kofi Annan has accelerated
the trend over the past year, notably in a recent speech in Davos,
Switzerland. At the same time, the UN is considering undercutting a
sub-group of the UN Human Rights Commission which is addressing the
impacts of corporations on a broad spectrum of rights issues.

"The UN is at a crossroads," said Upendra Baxi, a visiting professor of
law at New York University and former Vice Chancellor of the University of
Delhi. "It can take the low road and favor trade based, market friendly
corporate rights or take the high road carved out by its founders, which
would allow it to continue to stand up for universal labor, environmental
and human rights in this age of globalization."

"The U.S. government's refusal to pay the $1.6 billion it owes the UN may
be leading the world body to seek political and economic support from
corporations," observed John Cavanagh, Director of the Institute for
Policy Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Unfortunately, US
policy results in pressure on agencies such as UNDP to serve the short
term interests of corporate shareholders rather than foster the long term
goals of sustainable human development," he said.

"A Perilous Partnership: The United Nations Development Programme's
Flirtation with Corporate Collaboration," a report from the Transnational
Resource and Action Center, the Institute for Policy Studies, and the
Council on International and Public Affairs, names the corporations that
have signed on as GSDF sponsors. Many, including the British mining
concern Rio Tinto Plc; the Swiss-Swedish firm, Asea, Brown Boveri; US
corporations Dow Chemical and Citibank; and Stat Oil, Norway's state-owned
oil company, have come under fire from groups around the world for
significant human rights, labor or environmental abuses. 

"The UN should be monitoring the human rights and environmental impacts of
corporations in developing and industrialized nations, not granting
special favors," said Ward Morehouse, President of the Council on
International and Public Affairs. "Increasing collaboration will lead to a
reluctance to criticize corporations which are central players in the
human rights, environmental and development dramas unfolding every day
across the globe."

"This is precisely the wrong moment for the UN to do this," said John
Cavanagh. "Much of the world is now suffering because there are no checks
and balances on the global financial market. The United Nations should act
as a check on global corporations."

           Joshua Karliner, 1-415-561-6567
           Amit Srivastava, 1-415-561-6472
           Kenny Bruno, 1-212-623-8529
           TRAC--Transnational Resource & Action Center