[Imc-cfl] Sullivan Principles applied to violations of Open Records
dwight.hines at gmail.com
Thu Aug 23 03:56:13 UTC 2007
August 22, 2008
I was upset when I heard Darth Vader had been appointed as chair of the
sunshine committee for the State of Oregon. While we do not have that
problem in Florida, compliances with Florida Open Records requests (Chapter
119, Fla. Stat. (2007)) are often ignored in some cities and counties by a
range of tactics. Although Florida Open Records laws are Constitutionally
based in Florida, there are few to no prosecutions by Florida State
Attorneys for non-compliance with open records laws.
What I would suggest is that the fundamental right of open government
information means that it is reasonable, when domestic approaches to
solutions to obtaining records are near exhaustion, or are delayed too long,
is for us to consider invoking the Sullivan Principles. See below. Doing
so allows us to combine actions in Oregon and Florida, and other states, not
for a boycott or embargo, but to let people know that it would be good to
examine their conscience before engaging in business or tourism in those
The Sullivan Principles worked slowly in South Africa and they had the added
benefit of being non-violent. But the fact is that General Motors, IBM,
etc., realized that without good open records there could be no real
solutions to the terrible situations there.
In places like Oregon and Florida, that are heavily dependent on tourism and
wine sales, etc., the Sullivan Principles could be a profound tool. In
addition, at least in the late 70s when the Sullivan Principles were
invoked, supporters were not just white middle class activists but included
the followers of Islam in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The moral
authority of these and other groups meant that the pressures for
transparency were at the top, middle and bottom socioeconomic categories of
the shareholders and citizens. Such pluralism is an incredibly powerful
influence on decision makers. Transparency is fundamental in all the
Sullivan Principles and culminated In South Africa in the Truth Commission.
Oregon has international publicly held businesses, as does Florida, and the
Governors of both Florida and Oregon are making international trade
agreements with countries that are governed by the European Commission on
Human Rights. That means Article 19 can be invoked against countries that do
business with these states. The Organization of American States have an
equivalent Article on the right to know that the InterAmerican Court for
Human Rights recently affirmed as fundamental.
Finally, helping a city or county or state become sensitive to fundamental
rights could be accelerated by having reciprocity in public records requests
made by those of us supporting open government in different states. Thus, my
requests to, for example, to the City of St. Augustine, to provide
electronic copies of their records (in formats mandated by Rule 1B-26.003,
F.A.C.), would be followed (within a short period of time) by a request for
the same records by someone in Oregon. Local and state governments, for
some odd reasons, are far more sensitive to the opinions of outsiders than
they are of their own taxpayers.
Obviously, some requests for data that are sensitive, like the requests for
the costs of the illegal dumping of toxic substances by the City of St.
Augustine, will require parallel judicial actions. Similarly, St. Johns
County has the highest infant death rate in Florida, with black babies
dying at nearly three times the rate of white babies, and the failure of the
St. Johns County Emergency Rescue Services to provide requested information
will also require parallel civil actions to the invoking of the Sullivan
Principles. The Sullivan Principles are a good way to enhance and
emphasize the concurrent court and legislative actions.
St. Augustine, Florida
The Global Sullivan Principles
The objectives of the Global Sullivan Principles are to support economic,
social and political justice by companies where they do business; to support
human rights and to encourage equal opportunity at all levels of employment,
including racial and gender diversity on decision making committees and
boards; to train and advance disadvantaged workers for technical,
supervisory and management opportunities; and to assist with greater
tolerance and understanding among peoples; thereby, helping to improve the
quality of life for communities, workers and children with dignity and
I urge companies large and small in every part of the world to support and
follow the Global Sullivan Principles of Corporate Social Responsibility
wherever they have operations.
Reverend Leon H. Sullivan, Author & Founder
As a company which endorses the Global Sullivan Principles we will respect
the law, and as a responsible member of society we will apply these
Principles with integrity consistent with the legitimate role of business.
We will develop and implement company policies, procedures, training and
internal reporting structures to ensure commitment to these Principles
throughout our organization. We believe the application of these Principles
will achieve greater tolerance and better understanding among peoples, and
advance the culture of peace.
Accordingly, we will:
• Express our support for universal human rights and, particularly, those of
our employees, the communities within which we operate and parties with whom
we do business.
• Promote equal opportunity for our employees at all levels of the company
with respect to issues such as color, race, gender, age, ethnicity or
religious beliefs, and operate without unacceptable worker treatment such as
the exploitation of children, physical punishment, female abuse, involuntary
servitude or other forms of abuse.
• Respect our employees' voluntary freedom of association.
• Compensate our employees to enable them to meet at least their basic needs
and provide the opportunity to improve their skill and capability in order
to raise their social and economic opportunities.
• Provide a safe and healthy workplace; protect human health and the
environment; and promote sustainable development.
• Promote fair competition including respect for intellectual and other
property rights, and not offer, pay or accept bribes.
• Work with governments and communities in which we do business to improve
the quality of life in those communities — their educational, cultural,
economic and social well-being — and seek to provide training and
opportunities for workers from disadvantaged backgrounds.
• Promote the application of these Principles by those with whom we do
We will be transparent in our implementation of these Principles and provide
information which demonstrates publicly our commitment to them.
In 1977, the Reverend Leon Sullivan launched the original Sullivan
Principles, which were designed to help persuade US companies with
investments in South African to treat their African employees the same as
they would their American counterparts. These principles were then
relaunched in 1999 as the Global Sullivan Principles for Corporate Social
The Reverend Sullivan described the objectives of the Global Sullivan
Principles at their launch as being to "encourage companies to support
economic, social and political justice wherever they do business."
At the launch, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declared that "Enlightened
business leaders" recognize that their reputations, and even their bottom
lines, are intimately tied to good corporate citizenship".
The Global Sullivan Principles refer to the support for universal human
rights, equal opportunities, respect for freedom of association, levels of
employee compensation, training, health and safety, sustainable development,
fair competition and working in partnership to improve quality of life.
A company wishing to be associated with the Principles is expected to
provide information which publicly demonstrates its commitment to them. The
Principles aim to be applicable to companies of any size, operating in any
part of the world. They have been endorsed and implemented by a number of
business councils, campaigning non-governmental organisations, local
authorities, companies and representative organisations. To date, around 100
companies have signed up to them.
At the end of April 2001, the Reverend Leon Sullivan passed away, having
been ill with Leukemia. He was 78. The various tributes that appeared in the
media verified the enormous impact his life - mostly spent in the ultimately
successful struggle against Apartheid in South Africa - has had.
Not that recognition was lacking in his own lifetime. In 1992 Sullivan was
awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George Bush snr for
his work with the poorest and disadvantaged people of the world. In December
1999, he received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from President Clinton for his
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