The «Public Eye Awards» Make an Impact
12 January 2006
Held at the same time as the WEF, and the only true alternative, the «Public Eye» has already become an institution since its inception in 2000. Dr. Gret Haller, publicist and former National Assembly president, will open the awards ceremony on 25 January 2006 with a speech about corporate responsibility.
«Our symbolic ‘Public Eye Awards’ should remind WEF members and other corporations that the public is keeping an eye on them. The disregard for human and labor rights is just as unacceptable today as environmental sins and tax avoidance,» says Oliver Classen from The Berne Declaration. For Sonja Ribi from Pro Natura it is clear: «Transnational companies must be subjected to binding international rules that make them legally responsible, accountable, and most of all liable for their actions.»
The 2005 awards had varying effects on the winners. The Swiss branch of accounting firm KPMG International, awarded last year for abetting tax avoidance, formed a subsidiary for its aggressive tax consulting for super-rich individuals. And the oil multinational Shell, «awarded» for open gas burning in Nigeria, was recently ordered by Nigerian courts to discontinue this nasty business practice.
Last autumn, non-government organizations (NGO) from around the world nominated over 20 offenders for the 2006 «Public Eye Awards». Among the nominees are such corporations as Alcoa, Bayer AG, Chevron Corp., Citigroup Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, FILA, GAP Inc., Nestlé S.A., Novartis and other Basle-based chemical firms, Tesco plc, Vattenfall Europe and The Walt Disney Company. For each of the three categories Environment, Social Rights (Human and Labor Rights) and Taxes, the «Public Eye» organizers have chosen a winner whose environmental or business misconduct stands out. In addition, a «Positive Award» will be given for the first time, and further surprises are being planned.
• Ceremony program and complete nominations available at www.publiceye.ch