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Annan sees Nigerian meeting as major step forward for Global Compact in Africa

Annan sees Nigerian meeting as major step forward for Global Compact in Africa

With the launch of the voluntary Global Compact grouping business, United Nations agencies and civil society in Nigeria’s capital today, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on whose initiative the worldwide body was formed six years ago, expressed pleasure at seeing a major step taken to promote responsible corporate citizenship in Africa.

“I am pleased to send greetings to all participants in the 12th Nigerian Economic Summit. I am particularly delighted that your Summit marks the official launch of the Global Compact in Nigeria,” he said in a message.

“Today's inauguration represents a major step forward for the Global Compact in Africa. I am grateful to the Nigerian Government for its endorsement and support. I would also like to thank the African Leadership Forum and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group for introducing this initiative in your country,” he said.

The Compact enjoins members to observe principles derived from UN conventions governing such areas as human rights, labour, environmental and anti-corruption standards.

The leading yardstick of progress today, Mr. Annan said, is the extent to which countries are achieving the Millennium Development Goals MDGs.

The MDGs are a set of people-centred targets which were adopted by world leaders at the Millennium Summit in 2000. Mr. Annan noted that they range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of major diseases and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 and he said they are ambitious but achievable.

“The business community has a direct stake in helping countries reach these goals and achieve broad-based, sustainable development. Reducing poverty helps create stable and inclusive markets, as well as the purchasing power that allows markets to grow. Supporting such progress makes good business sense, and it makes good development sense,” he said.

The United Nations has a partner in a Nigerian business community prepared to help carry the Global Compact forward, he said. “Your entrepreneurial spirit, willingness to take risks and commitment to good corporate citizenship can help your country realize the vision of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and guarantee a better future for all Nigerians.”

As a voluntary initiative, the Compact relies on the vision and commitment of private sector leaders to make its principles an integral part of their day-to-day operations. Rather than seeking regulation, sanction or confrontation, the Compact emphasizes dialogue, learning and projects. Instead of interpreting existing norms and regulatory frameworks, the Global Compact focuses on finding practical solutions, Mr. Annan said.

To government and business leaders in Nigeria, he said: “Your commitment and your leadership will determine whether the Global Compact will succeed in your country, and whether it will expand throughout the African continent. I am confident that the Global Compact can take root and blossom in your country and in the region. If it does, it can prove a new and practical source of hope for Africans everywhere.”