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International Documents on Corporate Responsibility

Edited by Stephen Tully

International Documents on Corporate Responsibility includes the principal international, regional and national instruments drafted by intergovernmental organisations or states as well as codes of conduct formulated by industry associations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations. The coverage includes the fields of human rights, international criminal and environmental law, labour standards, international trade, armed conflict, sustainable development, corruption, consumer protection and corporate governance. Each document is accompanied by a brief explanatory commentary outlining the historical origins of the instrument, the principal actors involved, controversial negotiation issues, applicable implementation procedure, and identifies further reference material.
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Chapter 1: UN: the Global Compact, 2004


Commentary: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan first proposed the Global Compact (source: in an address to the World Economic Forum during 1999, and Principle 10 was added in 2004. The Compact is derived from leading intergovernmental instruments and therefore enjoys universal consensus. Each principle is accompanied by a useful explanatory commentary which suggests practical implementation measures. The Compact is administered by a network of organisations: the Global Compact Office, six UN agencies (OHCHR, UNEP, ILO, UNDP, UNIDO and UNODC) and approximately 2000 companies and other stakeholders. Companies commit in writing to publicly promoting the Compact and completing a ‘Communication on Progress’ which describes how the principles are reflected in commercial operations. This process is not intended to enforce corporate adherence. The initiative has given rise to a series of multi-stakeholder fora and global policy dialogues concerning conflict prevention, sustainable development, HIV/AIDS in the workplace, corporate roles and responsibilities, supply chain management, partnerships, transparency, anti-corruption and sustainable consumption. Outcomes include a ‘Business Guide to Conflict Impact Assessment and Risk Management’, 2002 and Global Compact/OHCHR (2004), Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice, Geneva. See further, UN Secretary-General (2004), ‘Final Report of the Global Compact Leaders Summit’; UN Global Compact (2003), ‘The Global Compact Resource Package’. The Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment, and anti-corruption: Human Rights Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human...

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