Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#61 - 17 Aug 2003

An email newsletter with news and discussion focusing on corporate social responsibility globally, looking at the companies in the news and the emerging issues. Linked to the website at http://www.businessrespect.net and produced every two weeks.

This web page provides news stories and articles from the newsletters. Newsletters also include links to features on the internet, Mallen's blog, and other resources.

In this issue, we review the UN Draft Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises.

Welcome

It's that time of year when the latest issue of Business Respect is met with a veritable avalanche of 'on holiday' auto-responders - but still we soldier on!

We rather assumed that the time of year would involve a considerable slowing of the website traffic, but were rather interested to find that it had in fact doubled since the previous week. The reason? The good folks at the American Graduate School of International Management have obviously taken to the case study on crisis management on Odwalla - so much so that they set their website to query the page every 4 minutes.

Flattered though we are, that's a lot of bandwidth on a page that doesn't change from month to month. So with some reluctance, we've blocked that internet address from accessing the page - an email sent to the web admin there offering to re-open access on a rather less intensive basis has received no reply to date. There you go. We're always open to ideas and suggestions about how people can use the resources at the website - but do speak to us first if implementing anything particularly resource-intensive!

Mallen will be speaking at the Asian Forum on CSR in Bangkok next month - and Vanessa will be in attendance also. Then Mallen will be going on to speak at the Ethical Corporation conference the following week in Singapore. We would be delighted to meet any Business Respect readers whilst we're in the region - feel free to email and let us know that you'll be around.

The website vote on lobbying rumbles on. You will recall that the question goes:

When it comes to lobbying on matters of public policy, companies should:
Lobby away and / or pay donations - legislators are grown-ups 20 (7%)
Lobby and / or pay donations - but they must disclose what they do 164 (59%)
Do nothing - corporate lobbying should be banned 93 (34%)

There have been 277 votes to date. Still time to make your thoughts known, although we'll probably be introducing a new vote soon.

If your autoresponder is on, we hope it's because you're having a great holiday. If not, we hope you find this issue of interest.

News

British American Tobacco 'frustration' at Burma calls

British American Tobacco has launched its second corporate social responsibility report and its chairman Martin Broughton took the opportunity to express 'frustration' with the UK government's urging of the company to withdraw from Burma.

UK: Consistent polluters undeterred by fines

The UK's Environment Agency has released its report on business environmental performance for the last year, and has highlighted companies its says are 'repeat offenders' for pollution.

South Africa: Government calls on US to dismiss apartheid lawsuits

The South African government has called upon the US court considering lawsuits aimed at extracting reparations from companies active in the country during the apartheid era to dismiss the cases.

Philip Morris wins cancer lawsuit

Philip Morris has been cleared by a jury in California of negligence and misrepresentation. The case marks the conclusion of the latest tobacco lawsuit brought by a smoker seeking damages arising from lung cancer.

Japan: Takeda Chemicals and Kirin Brewery collaborate on new medicines

Takeda Chemical Industries and Kirin Brewery have announced a collaboration to develop new medicines using technology to support the human immune system - labelled 'antibody drugs'.

Discrimination suit hits Reuters

Major media company Reuters is being sued for alleged racial discrimination at Radianz, a web development company it owns. The suit alleged constant abuse and discrimination against black employees that was tolerated by management.

India: Monsanto attacked for 'bio-piracy'

Monsanto has come under fire for its patenting of wheat varieties derived from Indian varieties and products made from the soft milling traits that traditional Indian wheat provides.

France: Bove steps down as anti-globalisation spokesman

Jose Bove, the French farmer who came to international fame following actions to destroy genetically modified plants and to attach fast food giant McDonald's, has said that he is to give up the post as spokesman of the Confederatin Paysanne union next year.

GlaxoSmithKline launches cheap Malaria drug

GlaxoSmithKline has announced that it intends to launch a new drug to tackle a virulent form of Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.

India: Court orders further tests on Pepsi

The High Court in Delhi has requested that further testing of samples of Pepsi be carried out, following the drinks company's petition to restrain the publication of a report on pesticides in colas produced by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Russia: Government adds to pressure on Yukos

Yukos, the Russian oil company, suffered a further blow in the ongoing official inquiry into its activities, when armed police raided the offices of one of its key affiliates, Sibintek.

Unilever challenges shareholders who don't vote

Unilever has requested - and received - explanations from 10 of its key investors who failed to vote at its last annual general meeting in a move that potentially turns corporate governance on its head and seeks accountability from the shareholders.

Canada: Government sues J Reynolds and Japan Tobacco

The Canadian government is suing RJ Reynolds and Japan Tobacco for alleged smuggling of cigarettes into Canada during the 1990s via tax-exempt US Indian reservations.

Article

Raising the heat on business over human rights

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 17 Aug 2003

On August 13th, the UN Sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights launched its document bringing together the range of codes and guidelines to which business should adhere - the 'Draft Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises'. On the one hand, the document covers some well trod ground. On the other, some business organisations have reacted with concern that this is the beginning of the slide towards compulsion on some rather difficult areas.

Previous edition - No 60 | Following edition - No 62

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