INDEPENDENT NEWS

Open Letter To Fonterra Board, Management

Published: Thu 17 Dec 2009 03:53 PM
Amnesty International Aotearoa NZ
Open Letter
To Fonterra Board, Management and Shareholders
With Profit Comes Responsibility
Dear Fonterra Board, Management and Shareholders
Following Fonterra’s unsatisfactory response to the “Sanlu tainted milk scandal,” Amnesty International repeats its call for Fonterra to publicly condemn the recent executions of Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping and to seek assurances for the freedom, safety and health of those who have campaigned for justice for families affected by the scandal. New Zealand’s largest multinational company has a duty to act responsibly and to show leadership, not merely to maximise profits irrespective of the human cost.
Fonterra has made very significant financial profits from its decision to trade in more than 140 countries, including China. With this benefit, however, comes responsibility.
Fonterra has confirmed that, as part of its future expansion into China, it is committed to exporting its “world class practices”. There has been nothing “world class” about Fonterra’s consistent distancing of itself from the tragic production, distribution and sale of melamine contaminated milk which saw nearly 300,000 children fall ill and six die. This despite Fonterra’s name being intimately associated via its 43% ownership of Sanlu, which lent its name to this scandal. The fall-out continues not only for those children made ill by this product but because the Chinese Government continues to persecute and imprison parents of affected children for simply campaigning for justice.
Declining to engage because “we are not a political organisation and would not be expected to comment or petition a foreign government on the laws of their own country” is deplorable. Like Fonterra, Amnesty International is non-political. Upholding the universal and inalienable rights of all human beings is not an act of politics; it is an act of courage and of humanity.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights details the universal and inalienable rights every human being is entitled to, regardless of political persuasion. It also obligates everyone – individuals, corporate, and governments alike - to respect and uphold the rights of others in their communities and the wider world.
By choosing to trade in many different countries with multiple jurisdictions, Fonterra has a moral duty to actively promote the same human rights standards it adheres to in New Zealand in every country in which it operates. New Zealand’s largest company cannot amass profits from international trade and simultaneously ignore its responsibility to promote and uphold the human rights of those people its operations affect.
Fonterra’s recent decision to buy out a Saudi Arabian joint venture provides the company with yet another opportunity for the company to export a commitment to human rights.
Amnesty International looks forward to Fonterra’s response.
ENDS

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