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The landmark partnership of the OHCHR with Microsoft
Dear Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I deliver this statement on behalf of CETIM, FIAN International, Transnational Institute (TNI), Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) and Corporate Accountability International (CAI). The statement is also supported by 26 other organizations (1*).
On May 16th, the Office of the High Commissioner announced a so-called “landmark partnership with Microsoft” of USD 5mio dealing with technology and business. This is an unprecedented move of the OHCHR breaking away from prior standards of integrity.
The OHCHR is a politically sensitive body at the core of the UN system, developing and administrating standards for human rights and justice with implications for all of us – including business. As such the Office must under no circumstances accept funds from the corporate sector. This has been the practice in the past, and there is every reason to uphold this rule.
While this Council is working on mechanisms to deal with human right violations related to the operations of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, it is clear that the corporate sector must not be allowed to buy influence in the UN human rights system. Business has nothing to do there. Human rights are a matter between sovereign people and their States. States carry the human rights obligation to properly legally regulate business in order to protect the human rights of the people.
States must close the legal and fiscal loopholes for business and regain control over the financial systems to implement the social policies and programs to which they are obligated under human rights law. In this sense, corporations must fully pay adequate taxes wherever they operate. States have to maintain the international human rights system.
The greatest need in the field of human rights is political will – including the will to reject corporate capture and to return to integrity.
We call on the High Commissioner to cancel this so-called partnership with Microsoft and desist from any agreements with other business corporations or corporate setups.
I thank you for your attention.
Geneva, 13th of June 2017
1* This declaration is supported by: Global Campaign to dismantle corporate power and stop impunity, HOMA, Solidarity Sweden – Latin America, Articulação Internacional dos Atingidos e Atingidas pela Vale (International Articulation of Those Affected and Affected by Vale), National Family Farm Coalition (US), Crocevia, Justiça Global, Humanitaire Plus, Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER), Society for International Development (SID), Attac Austria, Citizen News Service (CNS), Coast Trust, Eco Ruralis – National Peasants Association, Indonesia for Global Justice, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (N AFSO), PODER (Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research), Turkanapeople Organization (SAPCONE), Vote For Health campaign, Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragems (MAB), Unión de Afectados y Afectadas por las Operaciones de Texaco (UDAPT), IBFAN-GIFA, German NGO Forum Environment & Development, Friends of the Earth Sweden, Center for constitutional rights, The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance.