Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BP is Defended by UN, "Accidents Happen, Nature of Modern Life," Global Compact

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 15 -- As BP continues gushing oil for over 50 days into the Gulf of Mexico, at the UN on June 14, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's main adviser on corporate social responsibility defended the company.

"Big accidents happen all the time, it's the nature of modern life," said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. Video here, from Minute 42:20.

Kell was promoting an upcoming CSR event slated for New York on June 24, featuring Ban and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Inner City Press asked about several participating and donating corporation, including a tobacco distributor and a company of mercenaries or soldiers of fortune.

Then Inner City Press asked about BP, a long time Global Compact member. Video here, from Minute 33:11.

Kell claimed that BP has not been active in the Compact for two years. "I think their current status is non communicating," he said. But even as he said it, on the Global Compact website BP was listed as fully in compliance, with its next "communication of progress" not due until June 9, 2011.

One can only imagine what "progress" BP will communicate to the UN at that time. The reality is that the UN has no substantive standards for membership in the Global Compact.

UN's Ban listen to Kell, BP's gusher not shown

Despite receiving numerous detailed complaints, the UN Global Compact has for example kept as a member PetroChina and its investment in Darfur with the Sudanese government of Omar al Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court.

That Kell would try to misrepresent the status of BP with the Global Compact, and so quickly try to distance the Compact from BP before defending it, reflects that BP's image is now worse than PetroChina's.

But that Kell would then dismissively say of BP's still gushing undersea pipeline, "Big accidents happen all the time, it's the nature of modern life," shows either that Kell is not the right person to lead the UN's Global Compact, or that the UN is not what it claims to be - or both. Watch this site.

Diplomatic footnote: "It seems that Kell is more responsive to the UK than the US," opined one senior UN official, who requested anonymity due to Ban Ki-moon's anti whistleblower policies. "But where is [US Ambassador] Susan Rice on this, given Obama's new public attacks on Tony Hayward and BP?"

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