In an address to the World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan challenged business leaders to join an international initiative – the UN Global Compact – that would bring companies together with UN agencies, international labor organisations and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles. Today, many hundreds of companies from all regions of the world, international labor and civil society organisations are engaged in the UN Global Compact, working to advance ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption.
Through the power of collective action, the UN Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship so that business can be part of the solution to the challenges of globalization. In this way, the private sector – in partnership with other social actors – can help realise the Secretary-General’s vision: a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.
The UN Global Compact is a purely voluntary initiative with two objectives: mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world, and catalyze actions in support of UN goals.