First meeting of Global Compact Advisory Council to be convened by Annan

First meeting of Global Compact Advisory Council to be convened by Annan

Consolidating his efforts to make globalization work for the world's people, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will convene next Tuesday a meeting of senior business executives, international labour leaders and civil society activists who together will comprise the new Advisory Council for the Global Compact - an initiative which promotes action in support of internationally agreed principles on human rights, labour rights and the environment.

The Secretary-General decided to form the Advisory Council - the first governing body in UN history to bring together activists and corporate administrators to deal with a wide range of issues - in response to the growing success of the Global Compact. Since its launch in July, 1999, the Compact has attracted the participation of several hundred companies, labour groups, academic institutions, and civil society organizations. Each week, dozens more express their interest in joining.

The Compact's growth in size has been matched by a considerably expanded scope. Acting individually or in partnership with UN agencies and civil society organizations, participating companies have launched programmes to combat HIV/AIDS; stamp out enforced child labour; increase adult literacy; provide improved health care to rural communities; protect perishable environmental resources; end racism and discrimination in the workplace; and expand access to information technology.

These result-oriented initiatives have been accompanied by Global Compact policy dialogues which bring together key players to grapple with pressing and sensitive concerns, such as the ethical dilemmas posed by business operations in zones of conflict. The Global Compact has also created an interactive Web-based Learning Forum, where participating companies can share their experiences in aiming to reach the Compact's objectives.

Amid this surge of activities, the Secretary-General is convening the Advisory Council to focus renewed attention on central questions of governance and strategy. One of the Advisory Council's key tasks will be to propose better standards of participation in order to improve the Compact's effectiveness and to safeguard its integrity. Council members will also serve as champions of the Compact while advising the Secretary-General and his staff on key issues of strategy and policy.

In practical terms, this will require the experts, who will act in their personal capacity, to consider measures to ensure that a CEO remains engaged after pledging his or her commitment to the Compact. The Advisory Council will also consider what types of corporate behaviour are inconsistent with the spirit of the Global Compact.