Historic event puts corporate social responsibility on world stage

Kofi
Annan, the UN secretary-general, will call on world business leaders today to
help "build an inclusive and sustainable globalisation process" in
what is being billed as a "historic" event for the corporate
responsibility movement, The Guardian reports.

The
event marks the latest effort on the UN’s part to engage the private sector. In
July 2000, the secretary-general made a similar plea to companies to become
"good corporate citizens". Only 50 large companies responded at the
time.

Multinational
companies have been invited to sign a voluntary commitment to uphold a set of
nine core principles. The so-called ‘Global Compact’ draws on UN conventions on
the environment and human rights, together with International Labour
Organisation standards for workers’ rights.

Gavin
Power, senior adviser to the Global Compact, told the Guardian, "The
corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement was largely a northern
initiative, but the Global Compact has sparked a CSR movement within the
developing world.”

The
nine Global Compact principles:

Human
Rights

Principle
1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally
proclaimed human rights

Principle
2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Labour
Standards

Principle
3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective
recognition of the right to collective bargaining

Principle
4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour

Principle
5: the effective abolition of child labour

Principle
6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Environment

Principle
7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental
challenges

Principle
8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility

Principle
9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly
technologies

By Daniel Thomas

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