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Corporate social responsibility

The UN Global Compact


Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Copyright: BPAOn 31 January 1999, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, called upon the re­pre­sen­tatives of econ­o­mies around the world to make a joint commitment to establish social and ecological principles for the new global econ­o­my. The outcome of this was the Global Compact, in which over 3,500 businesses as well as labour, human rights, environmental and development organisations worldwide are now involved.

The Global Compact plays an important symbolic political role. It is owned largely by the private sector, and is supported by six UN organisations (UNHCR, ILO, UNIDO, UNEP, UNODC and UNDP), numerous governments, trade union federations and non-governmental organisations.

The Global Compact Network Germany today includes over 130 businesses as well as a further 40 civil society, academic and government organisations. It is actively supported by the German government, especially with BMZ funds, and has established itself as a sustainable and important platform for dialogue on Corporate Social Responsibility.

The Global Compact is designed to offer businesses an op­por­tu­nity to assume a lead role in helping make globalisation more just, in their own interests. It does not seek to replace other voluntary initiatives. It rather sees itself as a learning platform where experiences can be exchanged and ideas developed further. Its goal is to create transparency and opportunities for dialogue between businesses, civil society and governments, and in so doing to identify and support exemplary success stories.

The ten principles of the Global Compact

The UN Global Compact comprises the following ten principles, which are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and development:

Human rights

Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights within their own sphere of influence, and

Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Labour standards

Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;

Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour, and

Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Environment

Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;

Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility, and

Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Anti-corruption

Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

The German government welcomed the idea of the Global Compact from the outset, and has supported it ever since. The BMZ supports the Global Compact in various ways:

  • It makes available to the Global Compact Network Germany a coordination desk providing advisory services and support for activities (events, thematic workshops, partnership projects etc.).

  • It supports the Global Compact Office in New York, which holds central responsibility for the overall political steering and ongoing development of the initiative.

  • It supports the regional learning forum in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as eight local networks there.

BMZ glossary

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