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Globalization: the UNs Safe Haven for the Worlds Marginalized


'Globalization': the UN's 'Safe Haven' for the World's Marginalized
7. Conclusion

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An earlier abridged version was published in Transnational Associations, 2000, 6, pp. 295-313. [PDF version]


The Secretary-General of the United Nations announced the launch of a Global Compact with a group of multinational corporations during the northern summer of 2000 - a period traditionally reserved for the release of controversial information which would otherwise attract unwelcome attention. Former senior diplomatic officials associated with the United Nations were taken by surprise. But, given the parties to the Compact, the surprise was perhaps greatest amongst international nongovernmental organizations.

This paper explores aspects of this arrangement in the light of the reactions it has aroused and what it implies as a strategic shift on the part of the United Nations.

It is important to stress that this paper does not focus on the many aspects of multinational corporations that are widely criticized. Modern society is now too complex to sustain simplistic arguments labeling them as 'evil' and implying that most people are not in some way implicated in their continued existence (whether as customers, employees, shareholders or suppliers). Nor is the focus on the need for the UN to establish some kind of relationship with such corporations as actors on the world scene - a point made by the author decades ago (Judge, 1969). Nor is it on the possibility of fruitful partnership between the UN and multinationals on specific projects.

The focus here is on the totally non-transparent manner in which this Global Compact has emerged - a process that justifies every manner of suspicion as to its merits and future implications for the UN as a trustworthy institution. In particular it is concerned with the ways in which this initiative is experienced as a betrayal by the United Nations of its own long-promulgated values - whether in the eyes of individuals or of the many nongovernmental organizations that have actively or passively supported the UN over many decades. It is concerned with the surreptitious manner in which partnership arrangements with multinationals are being agreed or foreseen, possibly to the detriment of other possible partnership arrangements with the UN. 

1. Background to emergence of the Global Compact

2. The Global Compact of the United Nations

3. UN Public relations and 'NGOs'

4. 'Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)' and the Global Compact

5. Challenges arising from the UN's Global Compact

6. Globalization and the future of the United Nations

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