The United Nations' Compact With Business: Hindering or Helping the Protection of Human Rights?
University of Queensland Law Journal, Vol. 24, No. 2, 2005
33 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2010
Date Written: 2005
In 2005, amidst an era of reform the United Nations (UN) moved into its 61st year of existence. Constantly battling its critics, which label it bureaucratic, old-fashioned and ineffective; the UN is once again trying to reinvent itself. As part of the process to streamline and modernize the organisation, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is reaching out, beyond its nation state members, to non-state actors, particularly corporations, to help address human rights issues. Five years since the launch of the United Nations Global Compact, questions are being asked as to the value of this compact between the United Nations and business. This paper considers whether the efforts of the Global Compact and its participants to protect human rights are likely to make a significant difference to corporate behaviour. Part 1 examines the notion of corporate responsibility and the role of the Compact as a form of soft voluntarism in promoting such concepts amid calls for developing stronger measures of corporate accountability. Part II addresses the mechanics and principles of the Global Compact itself and the history from which it is derived. Finally, Part III focuses on the flaws inherent in the structure of the Compact and the challenges it must face in order to have an impact in ensuring greater corporate respect and protection for human rights.
Keywords: United Nations, Global Compact, human rights, corporate responsibility, corporate accountability
JEL Classification: K19, K20, K30, K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation