UNGC Call to Action, MSF criticises UN relief effort and ivory trade increases

Global Compact in anti-corruption push

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), the body that encourages businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible practices, has launched a new campaign advocating good governance and the greater implementation of anti-corruption policies. The new initiative, titled Call to Action: Anti-Corruption and the Global Development Agenda, is an appeal on behalf of signatory private sector firms to governments, urging them to promote anti-corruption measures and better implement policies that will establish systems of good governance.

“It is vitally important for business and government to work together to eradicate corruption and lack of transparency,” says Sue Konzelmann, director at the London Centre for Corporate Governance and Ethics.

Signatories to the new initiative would seek specific actions from governments. These include, but are not limited to, the full implementation of the tenets of the UN Convention Against Corruption, and achieving greater transparency in relation to revenues received by governments from private sector companies.

Angela McClellan, senior programme coordinator at Transparency International, a UK-based organisation that combats corruption, says it takes two to tango. “Working together to achieve transparency is in the interests of both government and business,” says McClellan. “Governments need to enforce international anti-bribery laws and conventions to create a level playing field and a productive operating environment for business. Preventing corruption reduces the costs of doing business by increasing economic efficiency, avoiding a vicious cycle of kickbacks, and creating an environment of trust.”

The recently launched Call to Action echoes the UNGC's 10th principle, that businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

Reining in Thailand’s illegal ivory trade

A recent survey by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic has recorded an alarming rise in the number of ivory items being sold in Thailand’s capital city.

“Traffic's regular monthly market surveys in Bangkok indicate a near three-fold increase in the availability of ivory pieces in the marketplace, a sure indication that Thailand's efforts to regulate the trade are failing,” says Richard Thomas of Traffic.

Partly to blame is a 75-year-old law that allows the legal sale of items made with ivory sourced from domesticated elephants. However, with no registration system in place it is impossible to trace the ivory, creating a loophole for ivory from illegal sources to be laundered into the marketplace, says Thomas. “Without a system to control and transparently trace ivory on the market back to its source and without effective enforcement of existing regulations the market is effectively out of control.”

It is estimated that at least 20,000 African Elephants were killed in 2013, poached for their ivory to meet the heavy demand from Asia. Asian-run transnational organised criminal gangs are believed to be behind much of the trafficking, with Thailand being home to one of the world's largest unregulated ivory markets. “There needs to be interventions at all points along the trade chain,” says Thomas. “These changes should include better trained and equipped rangers, better detection of smuggling operations at borders, stricter penalties for those caught trafficking ivory, better enforcement against markets where ivory is sold and penalties against those purchasing it illegally.” Ultimately however, the solution lies in reducing the demand for the commodity. “If you take away the demand, there are no buyers and thus no market,” says Thomas.

MSF critical of relief organisations

International medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has expressed concern over humanitarian relief organisations that appear more enthralled with securing funding for their programmes than with providing humanitarian emergency responses.

An MSF report, which highlights the limitations and deficiencies of international aid response to crises, suggests the UN and other international NGOs are failing to provide adequate and timely relief efforts despite having the necessary resources. “It cannot be said that the main barrier to better response is lack of funding,” says Sandrine Tiller, programme adviser on humanitarian issues at MSF and co-author of the report. “In all the cases reviewed, the funding situation was adequate.”

The findings are based on interviews with 116 humanitarian workers, and analyses the international response to conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Syria.

The report also notes that, despite the substantial growth of the humanitarian system in recent years, it has failed to lead to a proportionate improvement in performance during emergencies. While MSF acknowledges that good work is being done, with efforts helping provide relief and saving lives, it reiterates that much more can and should be done to reach those most in need.

doctors without borders  Global Compact  ivory  MSF  Thailand  UN Global Compact 

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