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Global March joins UN Global Compact

New Delhi, 12 August 2011: Global March is pleased to announce that it has joined the register of participants of the United Nations Global Compact. The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative. Participants join because they share the conviction that business practices rooted in universal principles contribute to a more stable and inclusive global market and help build prosperous and thriving societies. As of September 2010, the Global Compact claimed more than 6,000 participating companies from 135 countries, as well as 2,300 non-business participants, emerging as a truly global initiative with a strong presence in both North and South.

A unique feature of the Global Compact is that participation not only commits the company as a whole, but specifically its leadership. The personal involvement of top executives is an important signal to employees and other stakeholders throughout the company and its supply chains that the company’s corporate citizenship engagement is a strategic and operational priority. A top-down commitment can have considerable influence on the quality of Global Compact implementation, particularly lower down supply chains where real and significant challenges still lie, and Global March hopes to be able to contribute to on-going developments in corporate social responsibility and the need for greater transparency and responsibility throughout supply chains.

Commitment to 10 principles in business

Participation in the Global Compact is a visible commitment to the implementation, disclosure, and promotion of ten universal principles based on respect and promotion of human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and anti-corruption.

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

Principle 2: Businesses should ensure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

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

Principle 4: Businesses should uphold the elimination of forced or compulsory labour.

Principle 5: Businesses should uphold the effective abolition of child labour.

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

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

Principle 8: Businesses should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.

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

Principle 10: Businesses should work against all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery.

ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work

Principles 3 to 6 are drawn from the International Labour Organization’s  (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and it is encouraging to note the references to upholding workers’ rights, tackling discrimination and eliminating forced and child labour. The Global Compact encourages businesses to consider various suggested steps, for example:

  • Be aware of countries, regions, sectors, economic activities where there is a greater likelihood of child labour.
  • Adhere to minimum age provisions of national labour laws and regulations.
  • Develop and implement mechanisms to detect child labour.
  • Support and help design community educational, vocational training, and counselling programmes for working children.
  • In communities, encourage and assist in launching supplementary health and nutrition programmes for children removed from dangerous work, and provide medical care.

These are relatively simple steps, and are basic principles in many business multi-stakeholder initiatives, including those relating to cocoa and tobacco-growing as well as the garment-manufacturing sector. However, they can all contribute to the gradual elimination of child labour providing critical mass can be established in different economic sectors of participation by all stakeholder groups, including business. In addition, transparency in supply chain management and information-sharing is critical in tackling causes and consequences in a sustainable manner.

Expectations of participants

A company joining the initiative is expected to:

  • make the UN Global Compact and its principles an integral part of business strategy, day-to-day operations, and organisational culture;
  • incorporate the UN Global Compact and its principles in the decision-making processes of the highest-level governance body;
  • take actions in support of UN goals and issues, including the Millennium Development Goals;
  • communicate annually with its stakeholders on progress made to implement the principles, ideally integrated into the annual report or similar public document;
  • advance the UN Global Compact and the case for responsible business practices through advocacy and active outreach to peers, partners, clients, consumers, and the public at large.

In addition to these actions, participating companies are asked to make a regular annual financial contribution to help support the work of the Global Compact. The Foundation for the Global Compact serves as the financial intermediary for all contributions.

Non-business participants, such as the Global March, also make commitments in joining the Global Compact, including:

  • supporting the 10 principles;
  • advancing these within the organisation’s sphere of influence and making a clear statement of this commitment to stakeholders and the general public;
  • taking networks part in the activities of the Global Compact, for example, participating in local, joining specialised initiatives and work streams, engaging in partnership projects and reviewing statements on progress posted by participating companies.

Global March is pleased to have taken its place among the 8,000 or so participants in the UN Global Compact. The initiative is rooted in the belief that responsible business practices and cross-sector partnerships are critical to strengthening the global economy and ensuring environmental and social well-being. This is the fundamental principle that underpins worldwide efforts to tackle child labour – children being economically exploited because of their different vulnerabilities. However, these principles require more than lip-service to have sustainable impact and it is vital that companies and organisations subscribe to the 10 principles of the Global Compact in a meaningful way – participation must lead to sustainable change which is behind Global March’s participation to contribute in whatever way it can.

Recent history of globalisation shows that it is vital that people are put first in all business considerations and decisions. Failure to do so has led the world to where it is today. In the words of the UN “globalisation remains an imperfect experiment” and this is clear from the economic devastation that faces the world today. Responsible businesses can be a positive force in spurring development and improving human conditions and civil society and trade union organisations have a pivotal role to play in ensuring that corporate social responsibility is meaningful and leads to sustainable socio-economic development. The Global Compact can be an important mechanism in this process.

For more information on the UN Global Compact, click here

For more information on The Foundation for the Global Compact, click here