Who is the Berne Declaration?

We are a Swiss non-governmental organization with more than 20,000 members. We have been promoting more equitable, sustainable and democratic North-South relations since 1968. To this end, we carry out research, run campaigns to raise public awareness of different issues and do advocacy work.

What areas are we involved in?

The Berne Declaration is currently working on the following issues:

  • International trade
  • International financial relations
  • World Economic Forum in Davos/ Public Eye Awards
  • Agriculture
  • Private Finance
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Health
  • Commodities

Where can I get further information, e.g. publications?

You'll find the most important information in German and/ or French on our website. For our yearly WEF-critical main event, «The Public Eye Awards», we also run an English website.

Some departments publish expert studies in English, mostly as PDFs online. Once a year we publish an English report with information about our activities during the year. See all our printed English publications.

Lausanne’s commodities summit puts global transparency and the Swiss trading hub on the agenda
Secretary of State Yves Rossier appears today at the third Global Commodities Summit before prominent industry leaders of Switzerland’s under-regulated commodity industry. As show-piece, he will flash the government’s latest “Inaction Plan” (The Independent), but have no political answers to the ever-growing number of scandals involving Swiss companies. The BD ventures into the lion’s den to push for greater financial transparency and due diligence requirements.

Update to Swiss commodities report insists on voluntary principles and business as usual
One year after the release of its Background Report: Commodities, the Swiss government has released an update on the implementation of the 17 recommendations contained therein. These were already insufficient, and since nothing much has happened since then on this front, the federal administration has had to draw on some of its other activities to fill out the report, stretching them so that, where possible, these have suddenly become “commodity-related”. This also includes discussions with respect to the “multi-stakeholder initiative,” a process eschewed by the invited NGOs for failure to meet even basic requirements.

Free Pepper Logo
Europe-wide resistance against Syngenta’s patent on pepper
Today a broad coalition consisting of 34 NGO’s, farmers’ and breeders’ organisations from 27 European countries filed an opposition to a pepper-patent from Syngenta. The company patented an insect resistance, which they copied from a wild pepper. Such patents are ethically questionable, increase the seed market concentration, hinder innovation, and consequently pose a threat to global food security. While filing the opposition in Munich, a hot pepper soup was served to the employees of the European patent office.

Public Eye-Eye
The Public Eye Awards 2014: Gap and Gazprom receive “awards of shame”
On the 23d of january the Berne Declaration (EvB) and Greenpeace Switzerland awarded the dreaded Public Eye Awards during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. The Jury Award was awarded to the American textile giant Gap who steadfastly refuses to contribute to effective reforms in the textile industry. Over 280’000 people submitted an online vote this year for the People´s Award and with a clear majority, this award goes to the Gazprom oil company; another clear example of irresponsible business conduct at the cost of people and the environment.

Cover BD report Nigeria
BD oil report triggers parliamentary investigation in Nigeria
On the 12th of november, Yesterday, the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ordered an immediate investigation into a multibillion dollar scheme used by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian importers, in connivance with Swiss oil traders, to rip Nigeria off to the tune of nearly $7 billion. The Berne Declaration (BD) welcomes this political decision which follows last week’s publication of its report, ‘Swiss traders’ opaque deals in Nigeria’, hoping more light will be shed on the way Nigeria’s most valuable resource is wasted. The BD also brings answers to NNPC’s “lame refutal” (Premium Times) of the report and addresses further questions to the powerful national oil company.

Cover BD report Nigeria
Dark Business, Dirty Profits: Swiss Commodity Traders in Nigeria
Every year Nigerian state coffers lose billions of dollars as large volumes of oil are exported for well below market price and the subsidy scheme for imports of refined crude oil products is systematically defrauded. Thanks to opaque joint ventures with the national oil company, market-dominating Swiss commodity majors Trafigura and Vitol profit from these corrupt market practices. And Mercuria and Geneva-based Nigerian subsidiaries appear to be in on the action, too. An explosive BD report demonstrates why greater transparency, similar to that just announced in Britain, is urgently required.

illustration: research on plants
Will the European Union legalise biopiracy?
A new opinion piece, published today by Natural Justice and the Berne Declaration, sharply criticises the European Commission’s draft EC Regulation 2012/0278 (COD) to implement the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing in the European Union (EU). By excluding a significant category of genetic resources (GRs) from the scope of the regulation, the Draft fails to implement the main objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of GRs and associated traditional knowledge (TK). In addition it will lead to greater legal uncertainty for users, allow for unfair competitive practices and, in the long run, lead provider countries to implement more burdensome access procedures to GRs.

Nestlé Logo
Roibos Robbery: Nestle accused of biopirating
Research by the Berne Declaration and Natural Justice reveals that five recent patent applications by Nestlé on the use of Rooibos and Honeybush are in conflict with South African Law and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This second biopiracy case in South Africa in less than a year again demonstrates how big corporations neglect their obligations to seek prior informed consent and to share benefits when using genetic resources from the developing countries as obliged by the CBD.

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