Herzogenaurach, 24 April 2008 – China’s hosting of the 2008 Olympics has created a platform for many international groups to criticise the country for its human rights and environmental track record. Dream for Darfur is one of these campaigns. Its goal is to secure protection for civilians in Darfur by using the 2008 Olympics to focus attention on the special relationship between Sudan and China. The adidas Group has been requested to address the situation in Darfur to the Chinese Olympic Committee and the Chinese Government. In the following we would like to outline our position:
adidas Group’s broad approach
Whenever we are approached by a stakeholder or an interest group with an issue, our policy is very clear: we actively engage, we listen, we seek to understand the nature of the issue at hand and where it is within our ability, we act.
As a company we recognise the importance of promoting and protecting human rights globally. We also believe that the private sector can play a constructive role in advancing this goal. We recognise, however, our own limitations and ability to influence change on the world stage. We therefore focus our efforts on those areas which are within our own sphere of influence. We do so firstly by striving to operate responsibly and in a sustainable way, and secondly by safeguarding the rights of our own employees and those of the workers who manufacture our products.
It is specifically within the area of worker rights that we seek to hold direct dialogue with governments and where we have offered our support to the NGO community in their campaigns and human rights activities. We do so when the issue, or problem, is in a country or locality from which we source our product. Examples include communications with the Cambodia government over the murder and exile of trade union leaders, with the Philippines government on police harassment of union leaders and strikers, the Bangladeshi government on riots within the export processing zone, the El Salvadorian government on the full exercise of labour rights under trade agreements and the Indonesian justice department on the imprisonment of strike leaders.
The Dream for Darfur Campaign
The principal objective of the Dream for Darfur campaign is laudable - it wants to secure protection for civilians and humanitarian workers in crisis-ridden Darfur. In order to achieve this objective, the campaigners wish to apply pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Chinese government. Dream for Darfur believes that the Chinese government has the necessary leverage with the Sudanese government to secure access for peace-keepers and that the 2008 Olympic sponsors, in turn, have the ability to influence China’s foreign policy agenda.
The adidas Group has responded to the Dream to Darfur campaign committee and provided them with our viewpoint. We do not believe we have the political leverage that the campaigners have attributed to us. Nor do we have a legitimate role to play in the campaign groups discourse with the Chinese or Sudanese governments. As such, we have declined to write to the IOC or the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee.
While we share a common concern for those affected by the conflict in Darfur, we believe that the lead must be taken by the United Nations, which has a specific mandate for peace-keeping and for the promotion and protection of human rights. We believe the UN is best placed to develop and negotiate solutions.
We have reached out and consulted with representatives of Auswärtiges Amt (the German Foreign Office) and the German Employers’ Association. We have asked them to provide us with their assessment of the situation in Dafur.
After a close examination of the information we received from the German Foreign Office about the crisis region, we have written a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Executive Director of the Global Compact, appealing to them to implement Resolution 1769 in a timely manner and to no longer delay the deployment of UN peace-keeping forces to Darfur. We see this as a necessary step to bring peace to the country and to protect the people of Darfur.
The Dream to Darfur campaign has publicly recognised this endeavour of the adidas Group which emphasises our commitment to compliance with human rights as exemplary.