ECLT Executive Director Rejects “Front Group” Assertions

ECLT Executive Director Rejects “Front Group” Assertions

Geneva, 4 May 2018 – The ECLT Foundation has become aware of the alleged concerns about collaboration between UNICEF and the tobacco industry raised in the recent article, “The Tobacco Industry and Children’s Rights,” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (published April 2018, accepted February 26, 2018).

The Foundation welcomes and, indeed, encourages the objective examination of all efforts, including partnerships, which have the potential to positively affect the children and families of over 40 million farmers in rural communities where tobacco is grown worldwide.

The researchers’ assertions, however, that the ECLT Foundation is a “front group” for the tobacco industry to “infiltrate” organisations like UNICEF are baseless and false. Making such assertions without credible, independently-corroborated evidence in order to lobby for an agenda focused on an otherwise narrow scope of fundamental rights, at the exclusion of other equally-important rights, is clearly not in the best interest of children.

“The stakes for children, our sole beneficiaries, their families and their communities are dangerously high,” said David Hammond, ECLT Executive Director. “Individuals who have never worked or spent a significant amount of time in rural communities facing child labour issues, but are content with damaging armchair commentary, limited online research, or long-distance decision making do not take the realities of children living in poverty into consideration.

“With a legal and human rights background, I insist on lawful activity at all times and without exception in every aspect of ECLT’s work, partnerships and relationships,” explained Hammond, “Integrity, transparency, accountability and building long-term sustainability are key to our delivery and impact. Having reached over 650,000 children and families in rural communities since 2011, we constantly strive to increase our impact and so we welcome objective enquiry and debate.

“Nevertheless, those who consider that defaming, ill-informed and deliberately misleading articles will not be robustly challenged, are mistaken as to my resolve to weed out anyone who deliberately seeks to manipulate the truth about our work and exploit the narrative for their own ends. Balanced arguments, which are well-researched and backed by evidence and fact, must prevail over conjecture and hearsay.”

An independent Swiss foundation under Swiss Government oversight, the ECLT Foundation is accountable by legal mandate to the children, farmers and families making a living in tobacco agriculture in communities around the world.

For further information: Media inquiries: media@eclt.org Phone: +41 (0) 22 306 1444 Web: www.eclt.org

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