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UN Global Compact - 10 years of helping cover up corporate malpractice

Global Compact Cover UpBaby Milk Action and other campaign groups concerned about ‘egregious’ violations of the Global Compact Principles by Nestlé registered a complaint with the UN Global Compact Office last year under its Integrity Measures. Concerns raised in our joint report (left) included:

  • • 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

In its responses, the Global Compact Office stressed that the Global Compact is a voluntary initiative and the Office has no mandate or resources to conduct investigations, but will promote ‘dialogue’. As the campaign groups are already in ‘dialogue’ with Nestlé - and finding it unwilling to stop its violations of the Principles - Baby Milk Action asked the Global Compact Office to conduct the review of the communications cited in the provisions of the Integrity Measures. These give the Office the power to exclude companies and delist them from its website. The UN Global Compact Office refused to conduct the review and continues to post Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value and other reports on its website and accepted Nestlé as a Patron Sponsor for its 10th anniversary summit in New York on Thursday 24 June 2010. The UN Global Compact Office stated in a telling phrase about the initiative:

“Of course, abuses of the 10 Principles do occur; however we believe that such abuses only indicate that it is important for the company to remain in the Compact and learn from its mistakes.” 

The Office has been asked for information on how Nestlé has ‘learned from its mistakes’ and has provided no further information, though a briefing paper has been promised. The Office admitted that not one company has been excluded from the initiative as a result of complaints being registered. Companies are only excluded if they fail to provide reports, misleading or not. A leading Global Compact officer has now been appointed a Nestlé Vice President, replacing the head of the company’s anti-boycott team (page 18). 


Swiss refuse to communicate with Nestlé over OECD Guidelines breach

Baby Milk Action also submitted complaints to the UK and Swiss Government over Nestlé violating the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, another voluntary initiative which backers claim make binding regulations unnecessary. The UK passed the buck to the Swiss Government which offered to promote ‘dialogue’. Baby Milk Action asked it to request from Nestlé copies of its current infant formula labels and promotional materials so Baby Milk Action would not have to try to gather them from around the world - and be attacked if those on the market are ‘out of date’. The Swiss Government refused and said it was closing the case with immediate effect. 


See our briefing paper for further information - click here.


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