June 2012 (en español)
In Advance of London Olympics, U.S. and U.K. Investors Ask Corporations to Step Up Anti-Trafficking and Slavery Efforts
NEW YORK – May 8, 2012 – Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), a leader in socially responsible investing, and a coalition of U.S. and U.K. investors and NGOs have united to call on corporations to strengthen their focus against human trafficking and modern slavery in advance of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games taking place in London from July 27 to August 12.
The initiative focuses on the London tourism industry and key sponsors of the Olympic Games that may be at a higher risk for on-premise child and labor trafficking and that have the potential to help raise public awareness of these crimes.
On March 5, 2012, a coalition of 37 U.S.- and U.K.-based socially responsible investors representing $58 billion in assets under management, children’s rights- and investor-focused organizations sent letters to 32 companies, calling for immediate and transparent actions to train staff and suppliers to recognize and avoid the trafficking of workers into slavery, to monitor their supply chains, and to examine hiring and recruitment practices.
The coalition includes members of Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), and U.S. SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, FairPensions, René Cassin, The Code, and ECPAT-USA.
"While we anticipate inspiring examples of athleticism at The Olympic Games, that same dedication will be needed by Olympic sponsors and London area hotels to ensure that trafficking and slavery is eradicated within their spheres of influence. With the eyes of the world trained on the Olympic Games, these companies are well-positioned to take steps to prevent it. With the help of our allies in the U.K., our initiative can help focus attention on this global problem," said Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at CBIS.
Companies in the tourism sector that acknowledged the coalition’s letter include: Accor, Best Western, British Airways, Choice Hotels, Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotel Group, Starwood, Thomas Cook, and Whitbread. Olympic sponsors that acknowledged the letter include: Adidas, ArcelorMittal, BMW, Coca-Cola, John Lewis, Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Next, Procter & Gamble, Rio Tinto, Sainsbury’s and Samsung. Non-responding companies will be noted in a future press release with general trend analysis of the responses.
“We are very heartened that the vast majority of companies that received the letter will be taking action. Companies that already have formal anti-trafficking programs in place are showing genuine leadership, including conducting training sessions for staff and for suppliers, to make sure human trafficking will not be a blight on this summer’s games and to help end this practice once and for all,” said Lee Coates, Chair of The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility.
To impact future Olympics, select members of the coalition sent a letter urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to require that all Olympic corporate sponsors, suppliers, contractors and host cities take concrete steps to eliminate commercial sexual exploitation of children and labor trafficking.
"We expect the IOC going forward to incorporate clear guidelines on trafficking and slavery that include public reporting of results. Our request is in line with the IOC’s Charter that includes support for environmental issues and sustainable development and with the requests made in our letters to companies," said Rev. David Schilling, director of Human Rights, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
This initiative comes against the backdrop of a private member’s bill introduced in the UK House of Commons in February by Fiona MacTaggart, Member of Parliament for Slough. The bill modeled on The California Transparency in Supply Chains Law would require retailers and manufactures in the UK to disclose the steps they are taking to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their direct supply chains.
“The coalition’s Olympic campaign demonstrates investor support for adequate corporate disclosures of policies on the identification and eradication of human trafficking and modern day slavery from business operations. We hope to see more investors work with the coalition to engage UK companies on this important human rights and reputation issue both in the run-up to and after the Olympic games.” said Louise Rouse, Director of Engagement at FairPensions.
To involve the public, the coalition has launched a Celebration Without Exploitation website that includes links to fact sheets, anti-trafficking materials to download and bring to hotels, and letter-writing campaigns to join, as well as tools for investors and companies that are working to end these egregious human rights abuses.
Congolese Bishop Says Illegal Mining Causes Violence, Poverty, Urges Regulation in Congressional Testimony
WASHINGTON—Congress should continue to support laws that promote transparency among companies that mine in the Congo and to “resist watering down SEC regulations to half measures that may save money, but cost lives.” said Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Congo, in May 10 testimony to the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sponsored Bishop Djomo Lola’s participation in the hearing, “The Costs and Consequences of Dodd-Frank Section 1502: Impacts on America and the Congo.” Catholic Relief Services (CRS) coordinated the trip.
Speaking not as a businessman or a financial expert but as “a religious leader, who is deeply disturbed by the terrible violence and suffering that has dominated life in Eastern Congo since 1996,” Bishop Djomo Lola said, “This violence has destroyed families, villages and communities. One prominent driver of the violence is illicit mining conducted by the many armed groups in Eastern Congo. To protect our people from the misery of minerals, the Church in the Congo publicly supported the passage of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.”
Bishop Djomo Lola expressed the hope that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will publish rules that will be rigorous enough to ensure that companies and consumers do not participate, inadvertently or not, in commerce that has led to suffering and thousands of deaths.
He added, “The Church in the Congo trusts that the business community can and will join us to protect the life and human dignity of the Congolese people by conducting legal, transparent and accountable international commerce. We are confident that they do not want to be part of the misery that has plagued Eastern Congo for years.”
The Church Is Committed to Universal Healthcare Coverage
Vatican City, 24 May 2012 (VIS) - Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, head of the Holy See delegation to the sixty-fifth World Health Assembly, yesterday delivered an address before that gathering, which is being held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21 to 26 May. Speaking English, the archbishop reaffirmed the Holy See's support for Resolution WHA64.9 on "sustainable health financing structures and universal coverage,” which urges member States to aim for affordable universal coverage and access for all citizens on the basis of equity and solidarity.
He also recalled how Benedict XVI has emphasized the importance of establishing "real distributive justice which, on the basis of objective needs, guarantees adequate care to all. Consequently, if it is not to become inhuman, the world of healthcare cannot disregard the moral rules that must govern it.”
Archbishop Zimowski noted that "more countries, especially those with emerging economies, are moving towards universal coverage,” thanks also to "good policies that promote equity. ... Therefore my delegation strongly believes that in the endeavor to promote universal coverage, fundamental values such as equity, human rights and social justice need to become explicit policy objectives,” he said.
The archbishop made an appeal for high-income countries to show greater solidarity towards poorer nations in order to overcome funding shortfalls in health. In this context he quoted the Encyclical "Caritas in veritate" in which Benedict XVI writes: "More economically developed nations should do all they can to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid, thus respecting the obligations that the international community has undertaken in this regard.”In conclusion the head of the Holy See delegation affirmed that "progress towards universal coverage cannot be the effort of State machinery alone. It requires support from civil society. ... With over 120,000 social and healthcare institutions worldwide, the Catholic Church is in many developing countries one of the key partners of the State in healthcare delivery, providing services in remote areas to rural low-income populations, enabling them to access services that would otherwise be out of their reach. The efforts and contribution of such organizations and institutions towards universal access, merit the recognition and support of both the State and the international community, without obliging them to participate in activities they find morally abhorrent.”
Registration is now available for the 2012 Social Action Summer Institute
July 29-Aug 1, 2012 at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY
This year, payment is available online with credit card via PayPal, or by check to "The Roundtable."
Registration is available on line at catholicroundtable.org/events/sasi/.
This year, priority will be given to diocesan staff who apply for assistance with another key leader from their diocese who will work together with the diocesan staff in the coming year. Invite a colleague or key volunteer who could benefit from this training opportunity! Scholarship award notification for diocesan directors will be made on a rolling basis, beginning May 15. Decisions on scholarships for parish participants will be made June 15.
Join social action ministers from across the country for a four-day institute: Called to Transfomative Community: Addressing Poverty Today. The SASI will feature many engaging speakers including David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World; Jack Jezreel and Joe Grant of JustFaith Ministries; Fr. John Rausch, Director of the Catholic Commission on Appalachia; sessions on international & domestic poverty by staff of Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and USCCB-JPHD; and more.
Additionally, JustFaith Ministries will host a day of visioning on creating momentum for hope in our social action ministries.
For more program details, visit the SASI webpage or see the attached flyer. A press release is also attached to share with your diocesan newspapers and others.
June is Torture Awareness Month
Join the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) and congregations across the country in marking Torture Awareness Month this June. Under the theme “2012 – Confronting the Culture of Torture,” NRCAT has a variety of resources and suggested activities that congregations can use throughout the month. Worship resources; DVDs with discussion guides; banners, posters and bumper stickers; and resources for grassroots advocacy are all available at www.nrcat.org/tam2012.
NRCAT is also helping to coordinate planning for joint efforts with other human rights and religious organizations, including a march in Washington, DC, on Sunday afternoon, June 24, and local vigils on Tuesday, June 26, which is the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims. For more information, see www.nrcat.org/tam-coalition.
Hail and Farewell
After seven wonderful years, I will be leaving CMSM. I do so with very mixed feelings: sadness at leaving the best job I have ever had, working with the best people I have ever known; but also excitement at what might come next. I will certainly not be leaving behind the issues that have occupied me for the last seven years: economic justice, opposition to torture and the death penalty, immigration reform, advocacy for a budget faithful to Catholic Social Teaching, peace in the Middle East, and so many others. I will continue to be united with you in prayer and concern for creating a more just and peaceful world.
My successor is Eli McCarthy, the first layman to hold this position. I know he will be able to count on the same level of support you have always given me. I am grateful to CMSM for having afforded me the opportunity to serve men religious during these interesting times.
T. Michael McNulty, SJ
8808 Cameron St., Silver Spring, MD 20910-4152
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