News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International
AI INDEX: POL 30/036/2003 9 December 2003
Voluntary commitments by companies are not enough
The execution of the Ogoni 9 in Nigeria and the conduct of private security firms in Colombia convinced oil giants
Shell and BP to take human rights concerns on board. Evidence linking diamonds from Sierra Leone with the reprehensible
armed opposition group, the Revolutionary United Front, and its terror tactics of amputating the limbs of civilians, led
the diamond industry to agree to a system of international certification to weed out conflict diamonds. Allegations of
profiting from "sweatshops" forced apparel companies to look at human rights concerns.
Ten years ago, it was difficult to get companies to include human rights concerns into their work. Things are changing.
Scrutiny of the activities of global business have led companies to adopt codes of conduct and 1,100 companies are
participating in the UN Global Compact. However, much remains to be done. According to a survey, only 40 large companies
have explicitly incorporated human rights into their corporate policy and many codes are vague and insufficient, says
Irene Khan today in a feature on news.amnesty, in which she calls for a legal framework.
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