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Global Compact of the United Nations


The Global Compact of the United Nations
Status of the Global Compact
Rationale of the Global Compact: the "only hope"
Support for the Global Compact
Variety of forms of globalization and global compact

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Part 2 of: "Globalization": the UN's "Safe Haven" for the World's Marginalized

Launch of the Global Compact

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has over the past years been a frequent speaker at business gatherings, notably the annual World Economic Forum (, still known as the Davos Symposium. He spoke there of his hopes for a "creative partnership" between the UN and the "private sector". It was on the third such visit on 31 January 1999 that he purportedly challenged the CEOs of multinational corporations to join in a "global compact of shared values and principles, which will give a human face to the global market". However it was only on 26 July 2000 that the Global Compact was formally launched in partnership with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the first partners meeting was held under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General (see Executive Summary and conclusions:

It is far from clear what consultations, and with what parties, led up to the Davos challenge and what subsequent consultations preceded the formal launch. The regrettable non-transparency bodes ill for a supposedly transparent initiative. At Davos, the Secretary-General called upon business:

"to embrace, support and enact a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, and environmental practices". He continues: "Why those three...I chose those three areas because they are the ones where I fear that, if we do not act, there may be a threat to the open global market, and especially to the multilateral trade regime." (

In exchange for the support of business leaders he stressed: "More important, perhaps, is what we can do for you in the political arena, to help make the case for, and maintain, an environment which favours trade and open markets".

It is however clear that the process involved considerable interaction with the ICC as the self-acclaimed representative of world business - it is now subtitling itself the "World Business Organization". However its critics point out that it only represents the larger corporations and in no way can claim to represent the interests of the myriad of smaller businesses around the world. But it is quite unclear in what way this initiative has received the approval of UN Member States - normally hypersensitive to their prerogatives in such circumstances. Or is this silence part of a secret deal negotiated with the government delegates so evidently present at Davos? From whom could reliable clarification be obtained?

Ironically the ICC has long been accredited as a nongovernmental organization (an NGO) to the UN ECOSOC - like many other NGOs. The World Economic Forum is also an accredited NGO to ECOSOC. But it is strange to find a partnership between the UN Secretary-General and an individual NGO, in this case ICC, used as a front for multinational corporations. The secretary-general of ICC is a former employee of the World Economic Forum.

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