27 July 2000

Press Release



Following is the text of the Executive Summary and Conclusion of the High- level Meeting on the Global Compact, which was held on 26 July at United Nations Headquarters:

1. Under the leadership of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, global leaders from the world of business, labour and civil society met today to launch a joint initiative in support of universal values and responsible business operations. The Secretary-General first proposed the Compact at the World Economic Forum, Davos, in January 1999.

2. The Compact challenges business leaders to promote and apply within their corporate domains nine principles in the field of human rights, labour standards and the environment. The aim is to help strengthen the social pillars within which any market, including the global market, must be embedded if it is to survive and thrive. The principles derive from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Fundamental Principles on Rights at Work, and the Rio Principles on environment and development.

3. In addition to the essential contributions of the business community, the involvement of labour and civil society is crucial to root the Compact in the fabric of communities -– local and global. Their role as partners in dialogue and operational activities is equally important.

4. Business, labour and civil society participants welcomed the Global Compact as an innovative and timely initiative. They agreed to work together within the framework of the Compact to build a more inclusive global market -– by promoting broadly shared values and practices that reflect global social needs, and making globalization work for all people.

5. The main outcomes of the meeting were:

-- Nearly 50 transnational companies from such diverse sectors as media, mining, automotive, services, telecom, banking, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, software and footwear took a public stand on the Compact and its principles. Some of the companies had never done so. Others have had a troubled history in relation to one or more of the areas covered by the Compact. This initiative gives an important boost to the development of responsible corporate citizenship and sets an example for others to emulate.

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-- The companies pledged to translate the principles of the Compact into corporate practice by:

1. Advocating the Compact in their mission statements, annual reports and similar venues;

1. At least once a year, posting on the Global Compact Web site specific examples of progress they have made, or lessons they have learned, in putting the principles into practice;

2. Joining with the United Nations in partnership projects, either at the policy level –- for instance, a dialogue on the role of corporations in zones of conflict –- or at the operational level in developing countries, such as helping villagers link up to the Internet, or strengthening small- and medium-sized firms.

-- The labour and civil society partners will help build and deepen the Compact, and lend their expertise and support to designing and implementing its undertakings.

-- All participants agreed to help involve additional actors and to meet the goal of adding to the Compact coalition 100 large transnational corporations and 1,000 companies overall from across the world’s regions within a period of three years.

-- Business associations also undertook to initiate concrete plans intended to advance the goals of the Compact. For example, the International Employers Association will organize regional workshops before the end of the year. The International Chamber of Commerce and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development propose to use the framework of the Compact to address not only environmental, but also social issues and development when preparing the business contribution for the Rio-plus-10 Conference in 2002.

-- The Secretary-General reiterated his personal commitment to the initiative. He asked all participants to finalize a priority plan for collaborative action within the next five months and announced that he would establish a Global Compact Office to help make this happen.

6. Voluntary initiatives of the kind represented by the Global Compact are no substitute for action by governments. Effective governance is critical for the promotion of human rights, decent work, environmental protection and development. Moreover, if extreme poverty is to be eradicated –- a goal shared by all -– it is also necessary for the industrialized countries to further open their markets to the exports of developing countries –- especially the least developed countries; move swiftly on debt relief; and increase official development assistance while making it more effective.

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