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NGOs Accuse Big Business of Trying to Hijack World Summit.

JOHANNESBURG, 26 August 2002 - The International Forum on Globalisation (IFG) yesterday accused big business and transnational corporations of attempting to hijack the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and use the forum to drive their own agenda.

Martin Khor, Director of the Third World Network, the third world's leading organisation focused on global economic policies, said making big corporations accountable should be WSSD's top priority.

"Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) want the Summit to establish a global system to regulate the practices of corporations to prevent them from further damaging the environment, manipulating currencies, profits and markets, violating human rights of their workers or local communities that suffer dislocation to make way for them," he said.

Kenny Bruno, the co-ordinator of the UN Program for Transnational Resource and Action Centre (TRAC) called for opposition of corporatisation of the UN by protesting against the Business Action on Sustainable Development (BASD). Bruno disagreed with the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's earlier call to forsake confrontation for co-operation or voluntary partnership.

"There is a need to move away from voluntarism. Business should abide by societal norms or face the consequences," he said. BASD is a campaign by a network of international businesses under the banner of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to make contributions to the WSSD.

Big Business, through BASD, is rallying for voluntary, non-binding outcomes that do not entail commitments which puts it at odds with NGOs such as IFG, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) and Third World Network (TWN) who want legally binding and enforceable outcomes and corporate accountability.

"WSSD has the urgent task of placing the regulation of corporations back onto the international agenda," said Khor.

And according to Tony Juniper, vice-chair of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), it is a transfer of power to the global corporations that will not benefit local enterprise but Transnational Corporations resulting in capital flight and natural resources depletion.

by Momelezi Kula in Johannesburg, All Africa.