Among other things, the plan deals with the proposal of an ombudsman for Norwegian business abroad - a body to control the companies' activities relating to environmental issues and human rights. This proposal ties together existing positive incentives for the companies with political aims in other fields, and proposes the loss of public funds as sanction for the companies that violate proposed guidelines for social and environmentally sound behaviour.
In the plan, the Government puts the proposal of an ombudsman away, leaving it to collect dust in some shady archive drawer. Instead, the government propose a 'pilot project', to be managed by the Norwegian Institute of Human Rights (NIHR), to monitor the behaviour of the companies.
"In order to complement the activity of Amnesty and NorWatch"!?!
(The project description was so bad the NIHR did not want anything to with the thing, and the whole project is being done by a commercial consultancy company.)
The Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry should be happy that the proposal of an ombudsman was not adopted by the government. The Government can lean back, saying that they "have done something". But as long as the main principle is that taking human rights into consideration is a voluntary thing for the big business, the NGOs that stood behind the ombudsman proposal cannot relax.
Norwatch Newsletter 17/99