The United Nations Global Compact
A commitment to multilateral engagement and open markets has spurred growth and development in the decades since 1945. But opposition to globalization is rising in many parts of the world, as the ability of markets to meet societal expectations and needs is questioned and the spread of market forces outpaces the ability of societies and their political systems to adjust effectively.
Safeguarding past achievements and preparing the ground for a new period of prosperity requires urgent action on two fronts:
- renewing a commitment to openness and inclusion; and
- finding new ways to embed global market forces in universally shared social values, thereby allowing all countries and cultures a sense of ownership in the global economy.
At the 1999 World Economic Forum in Davos, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked business to do its part by demonstrating good global citizenship wherever it operates. He proposed a "global compact" that addresses three areas of shared international agreement: human rights, labour standards, and environmental protection.
The Secretary-General accordingly challenged business leaders to embrace and enact nine principles derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of the International Labour Organization on fundamental principles and rights, and from the Copenhagen Summit, and from the Rio Declaration of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit):
1. Business should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights within their sphere of influence; and 2. make sure they are not complicit in human right abuses.
3. Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; 4. the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour; 5. the effective abolition of child labor; and 6. eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
7. Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges; 8. undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and 9. encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
10. Businesses should work against all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery.
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