International campaign calls for Nestlé to be expelled from UN initiative
Press release 17 June 2009
Media coverage: Global Compact Critics blog, Sheffield Live! interviews Mike Brady
Nestlé’s UN Global Compact cover up -
How Nestlé’s Shared Value reports cover up malpractice and bring the UN voluntary initiative for corporate responsibility into disrepute.
(Click here to download a pdf or order a printed copy.)
Experts on Nestlé business practices have submitted a report to the UN Global Compact Office, calling for Nestlé to be expelled as a participant in the voluntary initiative. The Global Compact is described as: “a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.”
The Global Compact website displays reports (designated Communications on Progress) from Nestlé, such as those claiming it is Creating Shared Value, boasting of the company's positive impact. Experts allege that Nestlé's reports are misleading and that Nestlé uses its participation in the initiative to divert criticism so that abuses of human rights and environmental standards can continue. The Nestlé Critics have submitted their own report on ‘Nestlé’s UN Global Compact cover up’ to the UN Global Compact office, calling for Nestlé to be expelled. Under the terms of the Global Compact integrity measures, Nestlé has 3 months to respond.
Concerns raised include:
- aggressive marketing of baby milks and foods and undermining of breastfeeding, in breach of international standards;
- trade union busting and failing to act on related court decisions;
- failure to act on child labour and slavery in its cocoa supply chain;
- exploitation of farmers, particularly in the dairy and coffee sectors;
- environmental degradation, particularly of water resources;
Contributors include the International Labor Rights Fund (which has filed lawsuits against Nestlé over child labour in the cocoa supply chain and labor rights issues in Colombia), trade unionists from the Philippines, Corporate Accountability International (campaigning on water) and Baby Milk Action (which promotes a boycott of Nestlé over its aggressive marketing of baby milks in breach of international standards).
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:
A fundamental flaw with the UN Global Compact voluntary approach is that Communications on Progress by Nestlé and other companies are not subject to verification. Nestlé’s misleading submissions are published on the UN Global Compact website and have even been launched at events with the Global Compact office so bringing the initiative as a whole into disrepute. We are using integrity measures to call on the Global Compact office to act to try to salvage its own credibility by removing Nestlé from its list of participating companies. Nestlé use the UN Global Compact to cover up its malpractice so that abuses can continue.
Mike Brady: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 7986 736179
Notes for editors
The report Nestlé’s UN Global Compact cover up is available via the online version of this press release at: http://archive.babymilkaction.org/press/press17june09.html The 16-page report includes overviews of key concerns, with references for supporting evidence.
Further information on Nestlé practices can be found on the Nestlé Critics website: http://www.nestlecritics.org/
The UN Global Compact states it: "is not now and does not aspire to become a compliance based initiative. Nevertheless, safeguarding the reputation, integrity and good efforts of the Global Compact and its participants requires transparent means to handle credible allegations of systematic or egregious abuse of the Global Compact’s overall aims and principles.” Its integrity measures state that if: “the continued listing of the participating company on the Global Compact website is considered to be detrimental to the reputation and integrity of the Global Compact, the Global Compact Office reserves the right to remove that company from the list of participants and to so indicate on the Global Compact website.”
Nestlé Global Public Affairs Manager, Dr. Gayle Crozier-Willi has admitted that Nestlé is ‘widely boycotted’. The boycott of Nestlé focuses on Nescafé, its flagship product, but Baby Milk Action lists the brands from which Nestlé profits so boycott supporters can avoid them all. Guardian reported on 1 September 2005: "What do Nike, Coca Cola, McDonald's and Nestlé have in common? Apart from being among the world's most well-known brands, they happen to be the most boycotted brands on the planet. That finding came from this week's global GMIPoll, an online opinion poll that surveyed 15,500 consumers in 17 countries. Nestlé emerges as the most the most boycotted brand in the UK because of what respondents consider its "unethical use and promotion of formula feed for babies in third world countries."
According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Nestlé is the target of the boycott as independent monitoring finds it is responsible for more violations the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions than any other company.