United Nations Global Compact


United Nations Global Compact

Infobox UN
name = UN Global Compact


caption =
type = framework and mechanism
acronyms = UNGC
head = Georg Kell, Executive Director
status = Active
established = 26 July 2000
website = http://www.unglobalcompact.org/
parent =
subsidiaries =
commons =
footnotes =

The United Nations Global Compact, also known as Compact or UNGC, is an United Nations initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. The Global Compact is a principle based framework for businesses, stating ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. Under the Global Compact, companies are brought together with UN agencies, labour groups and civil society.

The Global Compact is the world's largest corporate citizenship initiative and as voluntary initiative has two objectives:"Mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world" and "Catalyse actions in support of broader UN goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)." [http://www.unglobalcompact.org/AboutTheGC/index.html]

The Global Compact was first announced by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in an address to The World Economic Forum on January 31, 1999, and was officially launched at UN Headquarters in New York on July 26, 2000.

The Global Compact Office is supported by six UN agencies: the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; the United Nations Environment Programme; the International Labour Organization; the United Nations Development Programme; the United Nations Industrial Development Organization; and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The Ten Principles

The Global Compact was initially launched with nine Principles. June 24, 2004, during the first Global Compact Leaders Summit, Kofi Annan announced the addition of a tenth principle against corruption. This step followed an extensive consultation process with all Global Compact participants.

Human Rights
Businesses should:
* Principle 1: Support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
* Principle 2: Make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Labour Standards
Businesses should uphold:
* Principle 3: the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
* Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
* Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
* Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.

Environment
Businesses should:
* Principle 7: support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
* Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote environmental responsibility; and
* Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Anti-Corruption
* Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

Facilitation

The Global Compact is not a regulatory instrument, but rather a forum for discussion and a network for communication including governments; companies and labour organisations, whose actions it seeks to influence; and civil society organizations, representing its stakeholders.

The Compact itself says that once companies declared their support for the Global Compact principles "This does not mean that the Global Compact recognizes or certifies that these companies have fulfilled the Compact’s principles."

The Compact's goals are intentionally flexible and vague, but it distinguishes the following channels through which it provides facilitation and encourages dialogue: "policy dialogues", "learning", "local networks" and "projects".

The first Global Compact Leaders Summit, chaired by the then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was held in UN Headquarters in New York on June 24, 2004. It aimed to bring "intensified international focus and increased momentum" to the Global Compact. On the eve of the conference, delegates were invited to attend the first Prix Ars Electronica Digital Communities award ceremony, which was co-hosted by a representative from the UN.

The second Global Compact Leaders Summit, chaired by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was held on 5-6 July 2007 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It adopted the [http://www.unglobalcompact.org/NewsandEvents/news_archives/2007_07_06c.html Geneva Declaration] on corporate responsibility.

The UN Global Compact - Cities Programme

In 2003, the UN Global Compact - Cities Programme was formed as an urban-focused component of the Global Compact with its International Secretariat located in Melbourne, Australia. The aim of the Cities Programme is to improve urban life in cities throughout the world by effectively using cross-sector partnerships between business, government, and civil society.

Criticism

Global Compact Critics

[http://www.globalcompactcritics.net Global Compact Critics] is an informal network of organizations and people with concerns about the UN Global Compact. The network gathers and shares information about the Global Compact, partnerships between the United Nations and companies, and corporate accountability. Many NGOs, such as Greenpeace, ActionAid, Global Policy Forum, CorpWatch, SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) and Berne Declaration (Swiss non-governmental organization), believe that without any effective monitoring and enforcement provisions, the Global Compact fails to hold corporations accountable. Moreover, these organizations argue that companies can misuse the Global Compact as a public relations instrument for "bluewash", as an excuse and argument to oppose any binding international regulation on corporate accountability, and as an entry door to increase corporate influence on the policy discourse and the development strategies of the United Nations.

Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN

The Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN, which no longer exists, was a campaigning organisation of several international NGO's, led by CorpWatch, which highlighted weaknesses in the principles underlying the Global Compact.

ee also

*Global Reporting Initiative
*Corporate social responsibility

References

* Kell, G. (2005) The Global Compact: Selected Experiences and Reflection, "Journal of Business Ethics", 59: 69-79.
* Global Policy Forum Europe (Ed. 2007) [http://www.globalpolicy.org/reform/business/2007/0801whosepartnership.pdf Whose Partnership for whose development?: Corporate Accountability in the UN System beyond the Global Compact, Speaking Notes of a Hearing at the United Nations] , Geneva, 4 July 2007.
* Debate between Georg Kell and Bart Slob (2008) [http://www.ethicalcorp.com/content.asp?ContentID=5898&ContTypeID=69 UN Global Compact – Is the Compact raising corporate responsibility standards?] , "Ethical Corporation", May 2008.

External links

* [http://www.unglobalcompact.org/ Official website]
* [http://www.un.org/partners/business/index.asp UN relations with Civil Society (Businesses)]
* [http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?&list=class&class=10&nointro=1&offset=20 CorpWatch articles on Global Compact Violaters]
* [http://www.globalpolicy.org/reform/indxbiz.htm Global Policy Forum - UN and Business]
* [http://www.citiesprogramme.org/ Official website of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme (an urban focused component of the UN Global Compact)]
* [http://www.business4good.org/search?q=global+compact+achievements The Achievements of the UN Global Compact, Jürgen Nagler]
* [http://www.globalcompactcritics.net/ Global Compact Critics, an informal network of organisations and people with concerns about the UN Global Compact]


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