United Nations Global Compact

What is the UN Global Compact?

The Global Compact is an initiative of the late UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Launched in January 1999, the Global Compact is a call to business worldwide to help build the social and environmental framework to support and ensure the continuation of open and free markets whilst ensuring that people everywhere have a chance to share the benefits of the new global economy.

The Global Compact encompasses ten principles which are from the area of human rights (drawn from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), labour (drawn from the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work), the environment (drawn from the Rio Principles on Environment and Development) and corruption (drawn from the UN Convention against Corruption).

Global Compact Signatories are required to:

  • Make the ten principles part of their business strategies and day-to-day operations;
  • Issue an annual Communication on Progress (COP), a public disclosure to stakeholders (investors, consumers, civil society, governments, etc.) on progress made in implementing the ten principles, and in supporting broader UN development goals;
  • Advocate for the Global Compact.

Though it is primarily a call to business, the Global Compact has also involved non-business participants, namely trade unions and human rights and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Why is the UN Global Pact relevant to business?

The UN Global Compact is the largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative in the world, which offers companies information and capacity building, the exchange of experience and the possibility of partnerships. The 10 principles of the UN Global Compact are widely recognised and are reflected in many corporate codes of conduct.

How is the IOE involved with the UN Global Compact?

The IOE is a member of the Global Compact Board as well as the UN Global Compact Expert Network. Many IOE member organisations are the focal point for the local Global Compact Networks.

How does the IOE’s work with the UN Global Compact to advance the agenda for business?

At the multi-stakeholder board of the UN Global Compact, the IOE represents the interests of business, helping the Compact to focus on supporting companies in the implementation of the ten principles, taking an inclusive approach that recognises the different resources and possibilities of companies and ensuring that the Compact is not misused for campaigning purposes.

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