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August 18, 1989 - Image 50

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-08-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I NEWS I

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Talking About ...

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New York (JTA) — Congress
has begun serious considera-
tion of a set of human rights
principles which, if adopted,
would urge U.S. companies to
make a "good faith effort" to
decline joint ventures with
Soviet firms that engage in
human rights violations.
The principles have been
hailed by human rights ac-
tivists, but detractors include
both the State Department
and many. U.S. companies
that are concerned the Slepak
Principles will discourage the
Soviets' newfound interest in
opening up their markets to
the West.
The Senate postponed ac-
tion last week on a bill con-
taining the Slepak Principles,
named after former refusenik
Vladimir Slepak, and refer-
red it to the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee.
Sens. John Heinz, R-Pa.,
and Dennis DeConcini, D-
Ariz., who introduced the bill
during debate on the State
Department Authorization
Bill, received a pledge that
the committee will hold a
hearing on the principles by
Sept. 15.
The principles are a seven-
point human rights code writ-
ten by the Slepak Founda-
tion, the Philadelphia-based
human rights group founded
by Dr. Alexander Slepak,
Vladimir's son.
The principles target a
number of human rights
violations said to be practic-
ed in the Soviet Union and
Baltic states, and include pro-
visions that the U.S.-Soviet
joint ventures comply with in-
ternational standards for oc-
cupational safety and en-
vironmental protection.
Although adherence to the
principles would be voluntary,
the law would order the State
Department to submit a year-
ly report to Congress that
monitors compliance. The law
would not provide for the
punishment of those com-
panies that do not go along.
Human rights organiza-
tions and advocacy groups, in-
cluding the Union of Councils
for Soviet Jews, said the
Slepak Principles will send a
strong message to the Soviets
on human rights.
Defending the bill, a
spokesman for Heinz said
Wednesday that "it is impor-
tant to bear in mind that
Soviet societies have been
sporadic in terms of openings
and closings.

354-6060

The Slepak Foundation first
presented its principles to
lawmakers at a meeting in

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50

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 1989

Human Rights Bill
Gets Cheers And Jeers

354-4560

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October 1988, in part as a
response to new initiatives by
Soviet leader Mikhail Gor-
bachev to open up Soviet
markets to Western investors,
according to Jack Engelhard,
communications director for
the foundation.
Engelhard said the prin-
ciples had earned the en-
dorsement of the AFL-CIO,
the Union of Councils,
assorted advocacy organiza-
tions representing ethnic and
religious groups in the Soviet
Union and the Rev. Leon
Sullivan of Philadelphia.
Sullivan is the author of the
Sullivan Principles, an
employment code for U.S.
businesses active in South
America. The code was

go

'It is important to
bear in mind that
Soviet Societies
have been
sporadic in terms
of openings and
closings.

adopted in 1985 as part of
U.S. government efforts to
fight apartheid.
Like the Sullivan Prin-
ciples, the new human rights
guidelines have met
resistance from American
businesses and trade groups,
including those that main-
tain the code is an unwar-
ranted meddling into a corn-
pany's private affairs.
The companies say that
practices codes, export con-
trols and economic sanctions
should not be used as political
tools, and end up hurting the
people they are trying to pro-
tect. They point out that
adherence to the Sullivan
Principles failed to under-
mine apartheid in South
Africa.
Not one of the 30 U.S. cor-
porations invited agreed to
take part in the October 1988
meeting announcing the
Slepak principles.
Secretary of State James
Baker has also testified
before the Senate Committee
on Foreign Relations that
with Soviet society appearing
to open up, the time is not
ripe to press the Soviets on
human rights.
A State Department
representative is again ex-
pected to voice the depart-
ment's objections next week
before the House Foreign Af-
fairs subcommittee on Europe
and the Middle East.

4.4

41.1

I

t".

doi



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