“The Public Eye on Davos” proposes binding rules for global corporations

Zurich and Basel, 07.01.2003 - The fourth international conference “Public Eye on Davos”, set to coincide with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), will be held in Davos from January 23-27, 2003. The conference will be opened by Oscar Lafontaine, former finance minister of Germany, with a speech on the social and environmental responsibility of big business. Public Eye on Davos is organized by the Berne Declaration, Pro Natura, and other non-governmental organizations (NGO) from all continents. They are calling for binding rules for big business.

The Public Eye conference will focus on the role of large corporations in the globalization process. “The WEF is a symbol for the power of transnational corporations”, says Matthias Herfeldt of the Berne Declaration. “Members and sponsors of the WEF, the leading global corporations, are the main beneficiaries of economic globalization. They deliberately forced the pace of market liberalization and deregulation”. But they failed to live up to their social and environmental responsibilities. As a result, public confidence in big business is dwindling. With its slogan “building trust” the WEF wants to reverse this process. “Voluntary commitment is not enough”, says Miriam Behrens of Pro Natura. “The power of big business must be limited in the interest of society and nature. What we need is a UN-convention for corporate accountability.”

The purpose of Public Eye on Davos is to monitor the activities of the WEF and its corporate members with a critical eye. Furthermore, the participating NGOs would like to promote public debate about the negative impact of a globalization process driven mainly by business interests. Also scheduled are controversial panel discussions with invited corporate CEOs. They will be confronted with the arguments of NGOs and people affected by their activities and will have an opportunity to present their views on corporate accountability.