Daily Media Briefing 25th July 2012

Daily Media Briefing

 

Posted in: Daily Media Briefing, Environment, Human Rights, Supply Chain

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July 25, 2012

Human Rights

Long-awaited arms treaty may be a damp squib

An historic treaty to regulate the global arms trade may fail to halt the flow of arms to war lords and brutal regimes, campaigners warned yesterday. After three weeks of tense negotiations at the United Nations in New York, a draft of the much-vaunted Arms Trade Treaty was circulated yesterday. It is the first time since the 1920s that a serious attempt has been made to draw up an international treaty to regulate the global arms trade, and follows decades of lobbying by human rights groups. However, charities complained that the proposed text of the treaty was weak and contradictory and would fail to stop weapons “transfers” such as the military aid Russia has lately afforded to the Syrian regime. The draft treaty requires that states consider whether weapons exports might “contribute to peace and security”. Peter Herby, of the International Red Cross, referred to the clause as “the snake in the ointment”, as states exporting weapons to repressive regimes might equally claim to be helping to restore order. (The Times*)

Abbott enters Burma responsibly

As the EU temporarily lifts its trade sanctions against Burma, and the US signals that it is ready to do the same, foreign companies are lining up to do business there in a situation similar to Cambodia in the late 1990s. However, while Cambodia was marked by unrest, poor working conditions and international scrutiny as apparel makers entered in search of cheap labour, some companies are looking to enter Burma in a more responsible way. One is pharma company Abbott, which yesterday announced a $1 million partnership in the country with the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Fund for Women and Girls through its charitable foundation. “During our recent trip to Burma we met dozens of women who are leading local organisations, making significant contributions to address critical community needs,” said Katherine Pickus, vice president, the Abbott Fund. “The Abbott Fund aims to further strengthen the capabilities of these organisations to advance health, education and economic opportunities for women – at a transformational time that holds great promise for the country’s future.” (The Guardian, CSR Wire)

Supply Chain

Maps spark concern over corporate water grab

As competition for clean water grows, some of the world’s biggest companies have joined forces to create unprecedented maps of the precious resource. Data released by the Aqueduct Alliance, which was launched last year by U.S.-based think-tank the World Resources Institute (WRI) in cooperation with GE, Goldman Sachs, Dow, Bloomberg and Talisman Energy, gives companies and investors unprecedented detail of water availability in some of the world’s largest river basins. The maps, which are powered by previously proprietary Coca-Cola data, are now publicly available for free. The promoters say the data should help companies use water more responsibly while helping them to manage their exposure to risk, but critics fear that it could be used to cash in on an increasingly scarce natural resource. “The risk is that the concerns of local people are left behind in the rush to secure access to water and reduce risk for companies,” said Lori Pottinger, Africa campaigner at International Rivers, an organisation that works to protect rivers. (Reuters)

Environment

UK government thrashes out energy deal

Wind investors will escape deep cuts to subsidies but the coalition will not commit itself to tough new targets for decarbonising British electricity generation under a compromise deal thrashed out between the Treasury and the energy secretary Ed Davey. Davey will claim victory for seeing off a Treasury threat to cut onshore wind subsidies by further than planned, but environmentalists are likely to be furious that ministers have been unable to find an agreement over whether to legislate to make most electricity generation carbon-free by 2030. One government official said: “The official line is that there is no agreement … but the status quo is that there are no targets for 2030 and that will remain the case.” The government will also make a firm commitment to the continued use of gas in energy production in the UK for decades to come. “We want gas investors to feel loved,” said one government aide. (Financial Times*)

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