Letter from the Directors
As usual, our work led us to various parts of the planet in 2007, and this year we noticed quite a lot of talk about tipping points. Beyond the talk, we think we may have even noticed some actual tipping going on.
We saw the scales of justice tipping in our favor as we defeated one Chevron motion after another as the oil giant unsuccessfully sought to avoid trial for its role in killing Nigerian environmentalists. We observed a global tipping point as world leaders acknowledged the reality of climate change, and their rhetoric, at least, increasingly refl ected a sense of urgency appropriate for the future of the planet. The rise of the ethical global consumer became a real campaign tool for the fi rst time. And we began to feel cautiously optimistic about critical change in the United States, as leaders and candidates increasingly moved away from the disdainful treatment of the global environment, human rights, and the rule of law that has characterized the past years.
But even as change begins, much work remains. In September we experienced once again the courage and determination of Burma’s people as they took to the streets to protest the military junta’s brutal economic and political policies. We dared to wonder: Is this it? Could this be the proverbial straw that will break the regime’s back? Like you, we watched in horror as the army dashed those hopes, shooting innocent civilians on the streets, as seen on TV screens across the world.
This display of courage in the face of power stood in stark contrast to the “socially responsible” speechifying from corporations, the increase of which also refl ected a tipping point, of sorts. Many corporations still need to be forced to do the right thing, in spite of the fact that they spent gazillions to try to convince us of how righteously they were behaving. Our two new lawsuits against Chiquita and Occidental Petroleum for abuses in Colombia and Peru, respectively, attested to that ongoing reality. Chevron’s “Human Energy” marketing campaign stood out as particularly glaring in the “actions speak louder than words” department. Despite claims that its presence in Burma helps the people there, Chevron failed to speak out in their defense or use its infl uence to stop its business partner, the military regime, from shooting monks in the streets.
Alas, in spite of some signifi cant progress in 2007, the challenges of abusive and unaccountable corporate power remained as entrenched as the Burmese military dictatorship. There are no easy solutions to these problems, and systemic change will not happen overnight. But we remain determined and committed to our belief that the
moment when the power of law and the power of people tip the balance and outweighs corporate and military power will come.
We’re in it for the long haul.
Thank you for being there with us!
Ka Hsaw Wa, Chana Maung, Katie Redford