the independent global newsletter for socially responsible business
US Chamber of Commerce announces top CSR performers for 2009 -
(Ethical Performance - 2009)
UPS and Chevron were among this year’s winners of Corporate Citizenship Awards from the
US Chamber of Commerce’s Business Civic Leadership Centre.
In the tenth annual awards, companies were rewarded for work in areas such as national and
international community service, corporate stewardship and partnerships.
The UPS logistics company won the community service category for its ‘Road Code’
programme, a safe-driving course for teenagers, which has provided a three-year $1.5million
(£920,000, €1m) grant to local organizations to implement the project across America.
The partnership award went to Chevron in acknowledgement of its work with the Discovery
Channel. The oil giant has worked with the broadcaster to establish learning centres in
Angola, Nigeria, South Africa, Venezuela and Brazil.
Other awards went to pharmaceuticals company Abbott and Wegmans Food Markets, for
their work on HIV treatment in Tanzania and hunger relief respectively.
Stephen Jordan, executive director at the Business Civic Leadership Centre, said: ‘Given the
circumstances, the calibre and depth of commitment of this year's award finalists and winners
was truly impressive.’
Tort doubts ‘need to go to highest court' - (Ethical Performance - issue - September 2009,
Volume 11, Issue 4)
Only a Supreme Court ruling will provide real clarity on whether the US’s Alien Tort law can
successfully be used to convict American companies for human rights abuses abroad, a legal
expert has argued.
Andrew Behrman, a litigation expert in the New York office of international law firm Lovells,
says the welter of cases being brought via the Act is just adding to the general confusion, with
different approaches being taken by various courts.
And as the two cases that have gone all the way through the courts – against coal firm
Drummond and oil company Chevron – have both been found in the companies’ favour, it is
still unclear as to whether anyone will ever be convicted under the Act.
‘With different courts adopting conflicting standards, it will likely take a decision of the US
Supreme Court to definitively decide this issue,’ says Behrman in a new paper on the Act.
‘Until that happens, multinational corporations will continue to operate in an uncertain world
as regards how their actions abroad will be judged in the US courts.’
Behrman, whose comments have been published in Lovells’ latest CSR legal bulletin, says
uncertainty over the Act may have been a factor in the recent decision by Shell to settle an
Alien Tort case brought by Nigerian families (EP11, issue 3, p7). He adds: ‘As seen from
Shell’s settlement, even the possibility of an unfavourable jury verdict may be enough to
scare multinational defendants from proceeding to trial regardless of how strong they feel
their defence to be.’
He also warns that the Chevron and Drummond suits were based on allegations of complicity
in ‘very specific, narrow international law violations’, whereas many of the current cases
involve more generalized allegations that may have a better chance of being upheld.
Chevron cleared of abuse - but cases still pile up - (Ethical Performance - europeamericas -
January 2009, Volume 10, Issue 08)
The huge oil group Chevron has been cleared by a US jury of complicity in violence that
erupted on one of its platforms in Nigeria in May 1998.
The charges related to disturbances in which dozens of Nigerians, protesting about
environmental damage caused by the oil industry, occupied Chevron’s Parabe platform nine
miles off the Nigerian coast.
The lawsuit was brought by one of the protesters, Larry Bowoto, who was injured when a
local police unit, called in by the company, stormed the platform. Two protesters were killed
and several others injured.
Bowoto had claimed Chevron was liable, among other things, for cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment, assault, battery and negligence. However, last month a San Francisco court
rejected the charges in a case that had been monitored closely by other oil companies
operating in Nigeria. The plaintiffs, supported by the human rights pressure group EarthRights
International, have said they will appeal.
The case had been brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a 1789 law that allows foreigners
to sue US organizations for offences they are alleged to have committed abroad.
Until recently it had been unclear whether campaigners could use the Act to sue companies
for human rights abuses abroad. However, the first completed Alien Tort trial against a
corporation – the US coal mining company Drummond – was heard in 2007 (EP9, issue 4,
Both Drummond and now Chevron have been acquitted, but further Alien Tort cases,
including actions against Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Firestone, Shell and Wal-Mart, are stacking
up. Chevron also faces a second Alien Tort case over allegations that it has polluted the
Jonathan Drimmer, a partner with the US law firm Steptoe & Johnson, said he saw no reason
to believe the Drummond and Chevron victories would ‘slow the trend’. Laura Livoti, founder
of Justice in Nigeria Now, which had supported the action against Chevron, added that
despite the latest defeat, campaigners were satisfied ‘that there is a clear pathway in the US
court system for holding corporations accountable to the rule of law’.
Business interests and some lawyers, nevertheless, are concerned that the statute may be
used by NGOs to gain publicity for wild allegations against high-profile companies.
Chevron said the recent case was groundless, as it had to call security forces to protect its
staff. ‘While we sympathize with the challenges the people of the Niger Delta face every day,
those challenges do not merit violence and hostage-taking for ransom,’ it said.
Chevron emphasized that it never intended that anyone on the platform should be harmed. It
merely wanted the protesters removed.
A company spokesman also alleged that some US lawyers were now exploiting the Alien Tort
Claims Act ‘in search of a fat payday’.
Chevron is first ‘corporate champion’
(Ethical Performance - europeamericas - March 2008, Volume 9, Issue 10)
The oil corporation Chevron is to give $30million (£15.4m) over three years to the Global
Fund to Fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.
Chevron is making the donation through the Global Fund’s newly established Corporate
Champions programme for multinationals making medium to long term investments to combat
disease in countries where they operate.
The company is the first to donate through the programme, which enables companies to
create links with their own volunteering and community programmes. Chevron’s contribution
will be spent in Asia and Africa, with the company additionally using the management skills of
its staff and its business infrastructure to help develop and implement national strategies on
Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund, a public-private partnership, has become the
main multilateral financial supporter of efforts to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. More
than a fifth of all international finance for Aids projects, and two-thirds for combating
tuberculosis and malaria, is channelled through the fund. So far, the programmes are claimed
to have saved two million lives by providing Aids treatment for 1.4 million people and
tuberculosis treatment for 3.3 million people, and by distributing 46 million insecticide-treated
bed nets to prevent the spread of malaria.
However, support from corporates has been piecemeal, and the fund hopes Chevron’s
involvement will encourage other businesses to give significantly more money.
(Ethical Performance - europeamericas - December 2007, Volume 9, Issue 7)
Three Danish pension funds are to sell their holdings in the Chevron and Total oil companies
over their links with Burma. ATP, PKA and Sampension, which collectively manage €86billion
($126bn, £61bn) in assets, are following the Danish government’s recent decision to impose
sanctions on Burma. Precise figures have not been issued, but the total divestment from the
two businesses is expected to exceed €150million.
landmark decision gives security principles teeth
Corporate signatories to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights will now
have to report annually on their progress against them, and will face disciplinary action if they
The principles were established in 2000 by the US government, and have formal support from
the governments of the Netherlands, Norway and the UK. Among the 16 corporate
signatories are Anglo American, BHP Billiton, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Hess Corporation,
Newmont, and Statoil. Human Rights Watch and Oxfam are among the non-governmental
organization (NGO) participants.
The new regime was agreed last month at an annual plenary of signatories in Washington DC
after a period of concerted pressure from NGOs concerned that the seven-year-old principles,
which guide companies on how to maintain the safety and security of their operations without
breaching human rights, are losing their way. Amnesty International, a supporter of the
principles, has raised concerns about Chevron and Shell ‘regarding their efforts to implement
the principles in their operations’, and earlier this year warned the principles were at ‘a critical
In particular, NGOs have felt that while some signatories are making determined efforts to
comply with the principles, others appear to be doing very little. The situation mirrors that of
the United Nations Global Compact, which introduced ‘integrity measures’ in 2005 following
similar pressure from NGOs and some companies (EP8, issue 6).
The Washington DC meeting decided that all signatories to the Voluntary Principles must now
meet a set of criteria that require them, among other things, to ‘communicate publicly’ at least
once a year on efforts to implement the principles, file an annual progress report and respond
promptly to ‘reasonable requests for information from other participants’. Any organization
that fails to fulfil any of these requirements will automatically be suspended.
If fellow participants feel a company is failing to make proper efforts to implement the
principles, they can be referred to a steering committee that will report to the annual plenary,
which will then vote on what action to take. Penalties include expulsion.
Benedetta Lacey, manager of Amnesty International UK’s business and human rights
programme, said NGOs were pleased overall with the tighter disciplinary procedures, but
added: ‘the key test now is whether companies are ready to commit to annual reporting and
implementation of the principles on the ground.’
There may still be issues to address. A new report from the twentyfifty consultancy,
commissioned by principles signatory BP, says there are ‘serious methodological issues’
about assessing performance against the principles, since this often entails ‘the measuring of
negatives’ such as the absence of a human rights violation. It also warns that NGOs are
undermining the principles through a lack of commitment.
Chevron sets out principles
(Ethical Performance - europeamericas - January 2004, Volume 5, Issue
Oil and petroleum multinational ChevronTexaco is to issue its 53,000 staff with corporate
responsibility guiding principles.
The principles, developed as part of a new corporate responsibility programme, are for the
‘operational guidance’ of staff.
They support a mission statement known as the ChevronTexaco Way, which commits the
group to ‘conduct our business in a socially responsible and ethical manner, respect the law,
support universal human rights, protect the environment and benefit the communities where
ChevronTexaco will test the principles in pilot projects run by its business units to ‘gain
practical experience in taking a more systematic approach to corporate responsibility
management’ – and to work out how to integrate social and environmental factors into
The company, which is not listed in either the Dow Jones Sustainability or FTSE4Good
indices, expects the pilots to reveal ‘additional ways to measure and assess our corporate
The pilots will concentrate particularly on human rights and community engagement, which
the group says are its main CSR priorities. ChevronTexaco will also pilot a human rights
statement this year, and is assessing how to make its community engagement work, on which
it spends $63million (£36m) a year, more effective.
The statement will provide guidance on issues such as employment standards, security,
conflict zones, indigenous peoples and human rights assessments. It is expected to provide a
framework for dialogue with external organizations and to be the starting point for measuring
and reporting human rights performance.
ChevronTexaco will test the draft statement in various unnamed countries ‘where we face
significant human rights challenges’. The group operates in 180 countries, including Angola
and Nigeria. Once the statement has been published ChevronTexaco intends to produce
further human rights guidance and training for staff.
The group has been carrying out a CSR review since Chevron merged with Texaco in 2001. It
published its first CSR report late last year.
oil companies back human rights code(Ethical Performance -
europeamericas - February 2001, Volume 2, Issue 9)
Seven leading oil and mining companies have signed up to a voluntary code of conduct on
human rights issued jointly by the UK Foreign Office and the US State Department.
The principles, which seek to curb abuses at facilities in developing countries, require
companies to observe the UN Declaration on Human Rights, to recognise the importance of
business support for human rights, and to be open about their actions and experiences.
The new code is the product of 18 months of discussions between the companies, non-
governmental organizations and the two governments.
The initiative is the first time that government, companies and NGOs have worked together to
produce principles for ethical corporate conduct.
The seven include US oil companies Texaco, Chevron and Conoco, and BP Amoco and Shell
from the UK. Mining groups Rio Tinto and Freeport MacMoran have also endorsed the
Madeleine Albright, former US secretary of state, claimed the agreement was 'a landmark for
Amnesty International welcomed the principles, but said only mandatory codes would ensure
compliance. It added: 'Companies need to recognise that guidelines like this are only credible
if they are enforceable.'
However John Bray, a consultant at security specialists Control Risks Group, said NGOs
could be expected to enforce the code. 'If companies publicly subscribe to these principles,
then they can be held accountable,' he said. Exxon-Mobil, the largest oil producer, has yet to
endorse the principles.