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First Russian meeting to support Annan's Global Compact initiative held in Moscow

First Russian meeting to support Annan's Global Compact initiative held in Moscow

A top United Nations official has encouraged Russian companies to set up their own network to promote the Global Compact, an initiative proposed three years ago by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to involve businesses in upgrading environmental, labour and human rights conditions.

Addressing the first-ever meeting in the Russian Federation in support of the Global Compact, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette told the participants that the United Nations of the 21st century would need to work with outside actors, in efforts like the Global Compact to improve the lives of ordinary people.

In the area of labour standards, she said, businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, while working to eliminate forced and compulsory labour, child labour, and discrimination in the workplace. They should take a precautionary approach to the environment, promote greater responsibility, and encourage the use of environmentally friendly technologies.

"The idea is to weave these principles into the fabric of existing trade rules, global markets and corporate practices," Ms. Fréchette stressed. "The Global Compact is not a regulatory instrument or a legally binding code of conduct. Rather, the Compact is a voluntary initiative to promote good corporate citizenship."

In addition to establishing partnerships with labour and civil society organizations she encouraged companies to work with the UN and other development actors. An example of an area where the business community has worked in partnership with governments and the UN was the issue of HIV/AIDS, she said.

Also addressing participants, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov added that expanded interaction between the UN and the private sector was in Russia’s interest. Following the round table, participants issued a statement expressing support for the Compact and welcomed Russia’s establishment of a web site to disseminate information about it.

Today's round table was organized jointly by the Foreign Ministry of Russia and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.