United Nations Global Compact: Wikis


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Small Flag of the United Nations ZP.svg UN Global Compact
Org type framework and mechanism
Acronyms UNGC
Head Georg Kell, Executive Director
Status Active
Established 26 July 2000
Website http://www.unglobalcompact.org/

The United Nations Global Compact, also known as Compact or UNGC, is a 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)."[1]

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:

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.



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 Geneva Declaration on corporate responsibility.

The UN Global Compact - Cities Programme

The UN Global Compact - Cities Programme was launched in 2002 by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It 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.

The formation of the Programme goes back to early 2001 when the City of Melbourne proposed that cities as well as corporations should be allowed and encouraged to engage the UN Global Compact. Melbourne argued that this would engender a clear statement of a city's civic, cultural and corporate commitment to positive change, as well as motivating participation in international dialogue. The Global Compact office in New York accepted the proposal and Melbourne became the first city to engage the Global Compact in June 2001. It provided an opportunity for the ten Principles of the Global Compact to be translated into meaningful outcomes within a cities (rather than just organizations).

In April 2003 under the directorship of David Teller, a simple framework called the Melbourne Model was developed that entailed more than just signing onto the Ten Principles. It begins by drawing the resources of government, business and civil society into a cross-sector partnership in order to develop a practical project that addresses a seemingly intractable urban issue. For example, Porto Alegre is tackling the problem of developing infrastructure and utilities for slum dwellers.

Member cities include Al Salt, Berlin, Jinan, Melbourne, Le Havre, Plock, Porto Alegre, San Francisco, Tshwane and Ulan Bator.

In 2007, the International Secretariat moved from the Committee for Melbourne to the Global Cities Institute at RMIT University, itself affiliated with UN-HABITAT. There, projects associated with city-based responses to global climate change and globalization have become increasingly important. The Melbourne Model has been further elaborated, with a sustainability indicators program developed as a way of assessing and monitoring progress.[2]

UN Global Compact In Syria

The Syria initiative aims at enhancing civic engagement and corporate social responsibility of private sector by promoting the ten principles of the UN Global Compact as well as forging partnerships between private sector organizations, public sector institutions and civil society. This initiative is a partnership between the Syrian Government represented by the State Planning Commission and the UNDP Country Office in Syria. It was launched under the patronage of the Head of State Planning Commission and in the presence of the Deputy Chairperson of the UN Global Compact, in July 2008.

The Syria Local Network has 26 businesses, 5 NGO’s, and 5 federations of commerce and industry. It was displayed among 10 selected ones from around the world in the Global Compact Sixth Annual Local Networks Forum. The Syria story was called a “leadership case” and the Syria Network growth ratio was ranked first among the global top ten in 2008. available at [3]

The UNGC National Advisory Council has been formulated and held its founders’ meeting in October 15 2008, with the participation of leaders from the Syrian private sector, international corporate representatives, local and international civil society organizations, UNDP, the Syrian Government, media and education sectors.


Many civil society organizations believe that without any effective monitoring and enforcement provisions, the Global Compact fails to hold corporations accountable.[4] Moreover, these organizations argue that companies can misuse the Global Compact as a public relations instrument for "bluewash"[5], 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.[6]

Global Compact Critics

An informal network of organizations and people with concerns about the UN Global Compact, called Global Compact Critics, levels a variety of criticisms at the Global Compact:

  • The compact contains no mechanisms to sanction member companies for non-compliance with the Compact's principles;
  • A corporation’s continued participation is not dependent on demonstrated progress;
  • The Global Compact has admitted companies with dubious humanitarian and environmental records in contrast with the principles demanded by the Compact.

Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN

The Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN, which no longer exists, was a campaigning organization of several international NGOs, led by Corpwatch, which highlighted weaknesses in the principles underlying the Global Compact.

Criticism from within the United Nations

The Global Compact has been criticized by several senior UN officials and advisers. In December 2008, Maude Barlow, senior adviser on water issues to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, called the Global Compact "bluewashing".[7] Other vocal critics have been David Andrews, senior adviser on Food Policy and Sustainable Development[8], and Peter Utting, deputy director of UNRISD[9].

See also


  1. ^ http://www.unglobalcompact.org/AboutTheGC/index.html
  2. ^ Paul James and Andy Scerri, Accounting for Sustainability: Briefing Paper No. 1, available at http://www.citiesprogramme.org/
  3. ^ Info on the Syria case available at: http://www.undp.org.sy/index.php/un-syria-global-compact
  4. ^ Global Policy Forum Europe (ed.), Whose partnership for whose development? Corporate accountability in the UN system beyond the Global Compact, speaking notes of a hearing at the United Nations, 4 July 2007.
  5. ^ Bruno. K. and Karliner. J., "Tangled Up In Blue: Corporate Partnerships at the United Nations", 2000.
  6. ^ Knight. G. and Smith. J., "The Global Compact and Its Critics: Activism, Power Relations, and Corporate Social Responsibility", in Discipline and Punishment in Global Politics: Illusions of Control, 2008.
  7. ^ Global Compact Critics, "UN's new water advisor calls the Global Compact 'bluewashing'", December 10, 2008.
  8. ^ Global Compact Critics, "Global Compact’s real home should be at the General Assembly of the UN", April 7, 2009.
  9. ^ Peter Utting and Ann Zammit, "Beyond Pragmatism: Appraising UN-Business Partnerships", UNRISD, 2006.

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