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Election of Donald Trump as President of the USA - implications for business & human rights

So a billionaire businessman will be the next President of the United States.  Not only that, but one whose business practices have often been presented as epitomizing wealth-generation for the few, at the expense of others. What does the election of Donald J Trump as President of the USA have to say for the business and human rights movement? 

Clarity on this will take time.  However it is clear that within the US and internationally the struggle for equality, human rights and climate action is more pressing than ever.  Organized action by civil society and workers groups will be essential to achieve these goals.  And business must speak out for diversity, and against growing divisions and the silencing of dissent. 

Find views from the movement here, and share yours on Twitter using the hashtags #bizhumanrights #TrumpPresidency

See also:
Human rights NGOs & journalists raise concerns over nomination of ExxonMobil CEO as Secretary of State
President-elect Trump's appointees reviewed by Senate amid questions over records & policies on business & human rights
Tech companies say they would oppose Trump's proposed Muslim immigrant registry


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22 February 2017

"Why Won’t American Business Push for Action on Climate?"

Author: Marc Gunther, in Yale 360

Original publication date: 16 Feb 2017

...[A]s President Trump prepares to back away from the Paris climate agreement, roll back the Obama administration’s signature climate change initiatives, and appoint an Environmental Protection Agency administrator who has repeatedly fought the agency, the leaders of corporate America have for the most part been muted or silent...

...Meantime, as the political winds have shifted rightwards, so have campaign contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs). In 2016, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google — all of which had previously favored Democratic congressional candidates over Republicans — donated more money to Republicans than Democrats. Congressional Republicans have united to oppose plans to regulate the greenhouse gases that cause climate change since 2008.

[also refers to Apple, Nike, Bridgestone]

Read the full post here

12 December 2016

USA: CEO of ExxonMobil likely nominee for Secretary of State - has history of being a "partner to dictators", says New Yorker magazine

Author: Steve Coll, New Yorker (USA)

Rex Tillerson, From a Corporate Oil Sovereign to the State Department, 11 Dec 2016

The news that President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State is astonishing on many levels. As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources.  Tillerson figures prominently in “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” a book I wrote about the corporation that came out in 2012. He declined my requests to interview him for that project... 

Because oil projects require huge amounts of capital and only pay off fully over decades, Tillerson has favored doing business in countries that offer political stability, even if this stability was achieved through authoritarian rule...

Although ExxonMobil has a stated policy of promoting human rights, and has incorporated the advice of human-rights activists in its corporate-security policies, it nonetheless works as a partner to dictators... It does not interfere in the politics of host countries. The right kinds of dictators can be more predictable and profitable than democracies. ExxonMobil has had more luck making money in Equatorial Guinea, a small, oil-rich West African dictatorship that has been ruled for decades by a single family, than in Alaska, where raucous electoral politics has made it hard for Exxon to nail down stable deal terms... 

ExxonMobil promotes the rule of law around the world—especially that part of the rule of law that favors international investment and makes international contracts enforceable.

Read the full post here

9 December 2016

"Trump era confronts organized labor with gravest crisis in decades"

Author: Steven Mufson, Washington Post

President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter attack this week on a union official, followed by his choice of a labor secretary who has criticized new worker protections, has rattled leaders of the American labor movement, who fear unions may be facing their gravest crisis in decades.

On Thursday, Trump announced that he would nominate as his labor secretary Andrew Puzder, a fast-food executive who has opposed additional overtime pay for workers and expressed skepticism about increasing the minimum wage. That followed a pair of Twitter messages Wednesday evening in which Trump attacked an Indiana union leader who had criticized him, saying the official had done a “terrible job representing workers."...

Read the full post here

21 November 2016

42 climate justice organisations respond to election of Trump & its potential implications for climate action

Author: Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice

"Global Climate Justice Movements Refuse to Be Overshadowed by Election of Climate Change Denier to U.S. Presidency," Nov 2016

We the undersigned organisations…gathered…at COP22 issue the following collective statement…in response to Donald Trump becoming President-Elect of the United States…and its potentially devastating implications for…climate justice

We…as climate justice groups…stand in solidarity with all people threatened and impacted by his Presidency. Islamophobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, elitism, and climate denialism are an insult and threat to us all. We are determined not to allow our governments to normalise or accept such a destructive- agenda…Governments must begin by committing to…ambitious action needed to realise the Paris Agreement’s goal…To confront this global crisis we must:

  • End all coal, oil, and gas extraction;
  • Commit to 100% renewable energy…
  • Create a just and equitable transition to a low carbon…
  • …[W]elcome migrants, refugees and climate displaced people…
  • Win back power for people over big business…

The views of one man neither change how the rest of the world sees the climate crisis, nor can they change the reality of what needs to happen to keep temperature rise to a minimum, below 1.5°C…

Read the full post here

21 November 2016

Hundreds Of U.S. Businesses Urge Trump To Uphold Paris Climate Deal

Author: Merrit Kennedy, NPR

17 November 2016

Hundreds of businesses such as Starbucks, General Mills and Hewlett Packard are asking President-elect Donald Trump to follow through on U.S. commitments to combat climate change. They argue it's good for business.

More than 360 companies and investors made their plea in an open letter to Trump, President Obama and members of Congress. They called on Trump to "continue U.S. participation in the Paris agreement," which he has threatened to scrap, and invest in the "low carbon economy at home and abroad."

The signatories also include DuPont, eBay, Nike, Unilever, Levi Strauss & Co. and Hilton. They issued the letter Wednesday during a major U.N. climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco, where representatives of nearly 200 countries were gathered to hash out the details of the Paris climate deal...

Read the full post here

20 November 2016

A scramble to assess the dangers of President-elect Donald Trump’s global business empire

...But the ethics experts eyeing Trump’s empire are now warning of many others [in addition to Turkey], found among a vast assortment of foreign business interests never before seen in past presidencies. At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East, a Washington Post analysis of Trump financial filings shows...

A group of ethics advisers, including former chief White House ethics lawyers during Democratic and Republican administrations, wrote Trump a letter Thursday urging him to sequester his business in a genuine blind trust or commit to a “clear firewall” between his Oval Office and his family.

“You were elected to the presidency with a promise to eliminate improper business influence in Washington,” they wrote. “There is no way to square your campaign commitments to the American people — and your even higher, ethical duties as their president — with the rampant, inescapable conflicts that will engulf your presidency if you maintain connections with the Trump Organization."...

Read the full post here

17 November 2016

How Wall Street Firms Make Money From Donald Trump’s Prison Policy

Author: International Business Times

A new report released today by In The Public Interest reveals that six major Wall Street firms work in tandem with the industry: financing its debts, servicing its bonds, and extending billions of dollars in credit to pay for its operating expenses and expansion into related markets, like selling ankle GPS systems to monitor immigrants.

By acting as a credit card for private prisons, those six banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, SunTrust, US Bancorp and Wells Fargo — help the prison companies avoid corporate taxes...

The banks behind the prison industry, of course, see things differently. “We do not as a corporation take positions on public policy issues that do not directly affect our company’s ability to serve customers and support team members,” Ruben Pulido, VP of corporate communications at Wells Fargo, told IBT. “We have banking relationships with tens of thousands of companies in hundreds of different sectors, and we only do business with companies that have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to complying with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations."...

Read the full post here

16 November 2016

Trump and human rights: How should activists respond?

Author: Compiled by Open Democracy

The day after Donald Trump’s surprising victory, openGlobalRights asked leading human rights figures, “How should human rights activists respond?” Here, we curate the responses we receive, as leading scholars, activists and NGO leaders debate how best to grapple with the rise of an explicitly rights-rejecting superpower...

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15 November 2016

"Statement on Trump Puts New Balance Shoe Company in Cross Hairs"

Author: Sapna Maheshwarinov, New York Times

Before this month, New Balance was lucky if it generated a few hundred reactions to posts on its Facebook page. Now, the sneaker company’s pageis flooded with impassioned commentary, and it has found itself compelled to make a statement distancing itself from white supremacists.

It started, when Matt LeBretton, the company’s vice president for communications, told The Wall Street Journal last week that “we feel things are going to move in the right direction” under Donald J. Trump. Mr. LeBretton’s comments were made in the context of Mr. Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that New Balance says will hurt its production of shoes in the United States while rewarding competitors that make more of their products overseas...

Read the full post here

14 November 2016

"What Donald Trump’s deportation plans would do to American businesses"

Author: Max Ehrenfreund, Washington Post

...One of the analyses, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research on Monday, offers the first detailed estimates of how a policy of mass deportation would affect specific industries. The authors, Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega of Queens College, City University of New York, came up with a few unexpected results...

...If all undocumented workers were immediately removed from the country, Edwards and Ortega forecast a decline of 9 percent in agricultural production and declines of 8 percent in construction and leisure and hospitality over the long term...

...Edwards and Ortega estimate that undocumented workers are responsible for about 3 percent of the U.S. economy overall. Deporting all of them would result in a substantial contraction.