UN to sponsor first Global Compact meeting in U.S. on campus

by Dennis Brown

The first meeting in the United States devoted to discussion and implementation of a new initiative known as the United Nations Global Compact will take place April 21-23 (Sunday-Tuesday) at the University of Notre Dame.

Titled “Meeting Expectations in the World Economy: The United Nations Global Compact,” the conference is jointly sponsored by the UN and the Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.p. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan first raised the notion of developing a “global compact of shared values and principles” in business at the World Economic Forum in January 1999. He challenged world business leaders to “embrace and enact” the benefits of global economic development through voluntary corporate policies and actions.p. Annan’s vision became reality 18 months later with the creation of the UN Global Compact. The initiative sets forth nine guiding principles (see below) that focus on human rights, labor standards and concern for the environment. Companies subscribing to the principles are encouraged to make clear statements of support and to submit an annual report that includes concrete examples of “good practices” for other firms to emulate.p. The Notre Dame meeting has been convened to advance knowledge of the Global Compact and its implementation among U.S. corporations and academics. Representatives from companies that have adopted all or some of the compact’s principles will present case studies of their experiences to invited corporate and academic leaders. Nike, Mattel, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard are among the companies scheduled to send representatives. Georg Kell, director of the UN Global Compact Office, and other UN representatives also will make presentations and answer questions.p. “Few U.S. companies have signed the compact, although many have been following its spirit,” said Rev. Oliver F. Williams, C.S.C., director of Notre Dame’s center for business ethics. “One of the purposes of this meeting is to have more U.S. companies affiliate with the compact and its international program.”p. The conference will take place at McKenna Hall on the Notre Dame campus. It begins April 21 with an introductory program in the evening, then continues all day April 22 and until noon April 23.p. The UN Global Compact calls upon world business leaders to:p. p. ? Support and respect the protection of international human rights within their sphere of influencep. ? Make sure their own corporations are not complicit in human rights abusesp. ? Uphold freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargainingp. ?Uphold the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory laborp. ? Uphold the effective abolition of child laborp. ? Uphold the elimination of discrimination in respect to employment and occupationp. ? Support a precautionary approach to environmental challengesp. ? Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibilityp. ?Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

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