Today at the WEF: Business shepherds its Partnersheep

Davos, 23.01.2004 - «Am I a Partnersheep?» asks the politician in sheep's clothing as the multinational dressed as a shepherd herds his flock with a staff crowned with the dollar sign. The Berne Declaration is taking this play on words to the streets of Davos today where the World Economic Forum is meeting under the motto «Partnership for Security and Prosperity».

Behind this humorous action lies the Berne Declaration's serious critique of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Because the WEF is not an international organisation but a private association dominated by the economic interests of it's members, some of the world's largest corporations, it is disqualified from playing the role it has given itself, that of a broadly-based forum seeking to solve the problems of the world.

«Its not surprising that business wants wishy-washy laws as the basis for 'partnership,' but our politicians should not play along. It is not the role of democratically elected politicians to enter into partnerships with private interests. They should be doing the opposite - defending the common good against private interests,» comments Matthias Herfeldt, Coordinator of the Public Eye and member of the Berne Declaration, in reference to the street action.

«Partnership» or in the current lingo «Public Private Partnerships» are all the rave today. Hundreds of corporations have entered into a partnership with the UN through the Global Compact, often the very same corporations who in their daily activities violate human rights and damage the environment. And it is these corporations who are most vocal in their opposition to the creation of binding regulations to achieve corporate accountability.

The WEF's motto leaves open the question of who should gain from these partnerships. «It does not serve the interests of the poor of the world, who are the majority, when the state devotes itself to promoting the prosperity and security of the largest corporations. New partnerships would not be necessary if corporations were to obey existing laws and pay their taxes instead of hiding their profits in offshore tax havens,» says Andreas Missbach of the Berne Declaration.