The United Nations Global Compact is a non-binding United Nations pact to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. The UN Global Compact is a principle-based framework for businesses, stating ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Under the Global Compact, companies are brought together with UN agencies, labor groups and civil society. Cities can join the Global Compact through the Cities Programme.
The 10 Principles
- 1 Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
- 2 Make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
- 3 Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
- 4 The elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
- 5 The effective abolition of child labour; and
- 6 The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
- 7 Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
- 8 Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
- 9 Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
- 10 Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability (a.k.a. corporate social responsibility) initiative with 13000 corporate participants and other stakeholders over 170 countries with two objectives: “Mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world” and “Catalyse actions in support of broader UN goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. Moving forward, the UN Global Compact and its signatories are deeply invested and enthusiastic about supporting work towards the SDGs.
The UN Global Compact was announced by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in an address to the World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999, and was officially launched at UN Headquarters in New York City on 26 July 2000. The Global Compact Office works on the basis of a mandate set out by the UN General Assembly as an organization that “promotes responsible business practices and UN values among the global business community and the UN System.”
The UN Global Compact is not a regulatory instrument, but rather a forum for discussion and a network for communication including governments, companies and labour organisations, whose actions it seeks to influence, and civil society organisations, representing its stakeholders.