|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AUGUST 2, 2005
First Comprehensive Grassroots Campaign for Corporate Accountability
NEW YORK - August 2 - Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today announced the launch of SHARE POWER, the first comprehensive and national grassroots campaign that harnesses the voting power of large shareholders to advance corporate responsibility for human rights. This year long campaign will focus initially on two companies--Chevron Corporation (CVX) and Dow Chemical (DOW)--and will culminate in national days of action around the companies' shareholder meetings in spring 2006.
With socially responsible investment firms and major institutional investors, AIUSA will co-file a shareholder proposal with Chevron addressing its past operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon where contamination is still affecting the residents and indigenous communities and with Dow related to its liability for the 1982 Bhopal gas leak that has so far killed 15,000 people and devastated the lives of more than 100,000. AIUSA's SHARE POWER campaign will connect AIUSA's 350,000 members to shareholders that hold considerable investments in multinational corporations with questionable human rights records.
"No matter who you are, where you live or what you do, you can find your shareholder connection to a large multinational corporation and use that connection to pressure change from the inside," explained Mila Rosenthal, AIUSA's Business and Human Rights Program Director. "Amnesty International and other human rights activists can use their influence with their state and city treasuries, or their university's endowment, or their investment companies to increase support for human rights-related shareholder proposals. This shareholder support will deliver a clear and powerful message to the companies' management."
This summer, as part of the campaign, concerned residents in Olympia, Washington will be pressuring the Washington State Investment Board to vote in favor of the proposals submitted to Chevron and Dow asking them to address their human rights impact in the Amazon and in Bhopal. Activists in Western Massachusetts are already pushing Fidelity Investments on the same issues. In the same way, students at Columbia and Stanford Universities are pressuring their institutions to develop clear proxy voting guidelines for their endowments that will ensure they vote their shares in favor of human rights proposals. All of the information on these and other local campaigns across the country will be posted in an online Forum for activists. The Forum will be the first online resource documenting how large shareholders use, or don't use, their power to support socially and environmentally responsible initiatives (www.amnestyusa.org/business/sharepower).
SHARE POWER recognizes that governments have the primary responsibility of protecting human rights, but also that companies must respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in their own operations and spheres of influence. SHARE POWER's two main cases illustrate the urgency of corporate accountability for human rights: