One year after its launch, 'Global Compact' is making inroads, UN official says
One year after Secretary-General Kofi Annan launched his Global Compact - an initiative to encourage business and labour to respect standards relating to the environment, employment laws and human rights - the effort was "making great inroads in many quarters," a senior United Nations official told reporters in New York today.
"The initiative continues to thrive," Georg Kell, Senior Officer in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, said at a press briefing. "Major challenges are still ahead, but a lot of action is in progress."
While it was too early to spell out exactly what the initiative had achieved, certain milestones should provide concrete measures in the coming months, said Mr. Kell. Among these was the 'Learning Forum' - a venue for participating countries to share their experiences in working with the Compact's nine principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards and the environment. "Participating labour and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be able to comment on the cases that companies submit" to the Forum, he observed.
According to Mr. Kell, there were "major agreements" being reached between international labour concerns and transnational corporations. "These are concrete outputs already which give labour a global avenue on striking a deal with big companies," he said. At the same time, he noted that individual companies were taking a stand on human rights thanks to the initiative.
"The Global Compact has and is increasingly inspiring a lot of business leaders, NGOs and labour [organizations] to work with it, and the nine universal principles which the Secretary-General has advocated are increasingly taking root in many countries," he stressed.
In addition to marking the one-year anniversary of the Compact -- first proposed by Mr. Annan at the World Economic Forum in January 1999 and formally launched on 26 July 2000 - today's press briefing served to launch a new newsletter on the initiative. "We believe it provides quite a rich picture of activities in progress," explained Mr. Kell, calling the newsletter "a snapshot of progress in action."
According to the newsletter, several hundred companies from all regions of the world are now participating in the Compact - up from nearly 50 at the start. The newsletter details recent Compact-related activities, such as a meeting earlier this year of participating Scandinavian companies, including Deloitte & Touche, Ericsson, Hennes & Mauritz, Statoil and Volvo.