Monday, December 19, 2005


Margot Wallstrom, Vice-President of the European Commission, has made an interesting comment in her blog.
Corporate Responsibility

Thank you for your comments on Janez‘ post, please continue to comment on it. I will write about my trip to Germany next week but first I wanted to say something else.

I hoped for snow during my trip to Berlin and then we got plenty of snow in Brussels last weekend. As usual, it caused chaos and anarchy on the streets. But that was, unfortunately, not all. I heard from a friend that two people froze to death in Brussels. One in front of a church (heated but locked) and one in front of a hospital.

Stories like this always hit me hard, no matter where they happen. To eliminate poverty and social exclusion is on my agenda for global political action. So is freedom and democracy. And I was very disappointed to learn that Microsoft has agreed to block Chinese blog entries that use words like “democracy“, “freedom“, “human rights“ and “demonstration.”

Margot Wallström taking part in an online chat

It seems like Microsoft is not alone in “bad company“. Google has agreed to exclude publications that the Chinese government finds objectionable. And Yahoo has even gone further. They collaborated with the Chinese government and gave up the name of a writer who sent an e-mail that commented on a party decision. Based on this information, the man received a ten-year prison sentence.

According to the organisation Human Rights Watch these companies are hiding behind statements claiming that they “have to ensure that they operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the countries they are based in”.

Words like ethics and corporate social responsibility seems to be deleted from their corporate code of conducts – or they have flexible ethical standards depending on where they operate… I can only recommend these companies to visit the website of the UN Global Compact at And, hope that these companies one day will understand that to endorse democracy and corporate responsibility is a prerequisite for “smart” growth. From now on, this issue is also on my political agenda.

China's record on human rights is well known, and yet the US allows it's companies to do business there. Money certainly speaks louder than words.

ref: Margot Wallstrom's blog

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