the initiative: it was during his speech at the World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999, that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan invited business leaders to join an international initiative -the Global Compact - that would bring companies together with UN agencies, labour and civil society to advance universal social and environmental principles. Through the power of collective action, the Global Compact seeks to improve responsible corporate citizenship so that business can help in the realisation of a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.
principles: the initiative demonstrated its large ambitions from the beginning. It asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of ten core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment, and corruption…
- businesses should support and respect the protection of international human rights within their sphere of influence; and
- make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
- businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
- the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
- the effective abolition of child labour; and
- the elimination of discrimination with respect to employment and occupation.
- businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
- undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
- encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
monitoring: participating companies are asked to communicate the progress made in internalising these principles within their own operations at least once a year. Lacking this, they can be removed from the list of participants.
- businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
networking: the Global Compact involves all the relevant social actors: governments; companies, whose actions it seeks to influence; labour, in whose hands the concrete process of global production takes place; civil society organisations, representing the wider community of stakeholders; and the United Nations. And this network is growing: today, more than 1,000 companies from all regions of the world, international labour and civil society organisations are engaged in the initiative and there are almost fifty Global Compact networks on country or regional levels.
Putting mutual learning through best practises exchanges and interaction between different actors and different approaches to Corporate Social Responsibility as primary principles, Global Compact represents a real global forum to start building a fairer world.