May 28, 2002 – Friends of Earth International (FoEI) is outraged at the tactics used by certain governments to undermine the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue (MSD) on Governance issues yesterday and to block any moves to secure accountability for corporations.

The MSD is the only formal process for major stakeholders – non-governmental organisations (NGOs), women, youth, labour, indigenous people, farmers, business and local authorities – to influence the negotiated outcomes of the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD).

After the two-day MSD process, FoEI learned that some governments had moved behind closed doors, to delete key paragraphs relating to corporate accountability from the Vice?Chair’s paper entitled, “Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development.”

FoEI accuses the United States and Australia of being the main culprits. “These two countries have consistently worked to gut every proposal being put forward by civil society throughout the entire preparatory process. Now they are resorting to dirty and deceptive tactics,” said Ricardo Navarro, FoEI’s Chairperson. “We utterly condemn their behaviour.”

“The MSD is an absolute smokescreen to give the illusion of multi-stakeholder input. Governments – especially the United States and Australia – are not listening to NGOs,” said Navarro.

A corporate accountability convention would establish rights for citizens and communities affected by corporate activities; duties for corporations with respect to social and environmental matters; and rules to ensure high standards of behaviour wherever corporations operate.

Bali is the last stop before Johannesburg. Governments must negotiate in Bali for a legally binding framework for corporate accountability and liability. While some governments will seek toothless voluntary initiatives, the WSSD provides a critical opportunity to reverse the current destructive model and establish innovative policy solutions to achieve sustainable development.

“If Governments fail in Bali, Johannesburg will merely be a public relations exercise with no substance,” said Navarro.

Colleen Freeman or Kel Dummett, 0817-971-1394