Corporate Influence at the United Nations: UN Documents
Global Compact and UN Partnerships with Business
United Nations Global Compact - White Paper July 2, 2014
"As the terms of the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing near their conclusions, important questions remain as to the magnitude and range of business engagement, its accountability within the Post-2015 project and how business can be a more positive force for sustainable development.
These discussions and questions occur amid a highly transitional time for the international business community. In recent years, rising numbers of for-profit organizations – from the largest global multinationals to the smallest micro enterprises – have embraced the tenets and principles of responsible business, for both commercial and ethical reasons. While it is arguably the case that the majority of business organizations are in the nascent stage of this shift, there is a compact but global and ever-expanding group of enterprises, both private and state-owned, for whom responsible business and “corporate sustainability” are strategic imperatives. The defining feature of these organizations is a growing desire to link their policies and behaviour – rooted in accountability and transparency – with broader sustainable development priorities and objectives. Fundamentally, they recognize that what is good for societies and the planet is also good for business over the long term.
This paper attempts to bring the perspective of responsible business to these issues of current discussion, which are likely to remain matters of interest and even of some dispute throughout the formulation and implementation of a new set of sustainable development goals (SDGs)."
Enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector
Report of the Secretary-General August 15, 2013
The most recent report of the Secretary-General on the UN's collaboration with business, this document was issued under the General Assembly agenda item on "Towards Global Partnerships." The report emphasizes the shift of the UN towards "a more strategic approach to engaging with business partners and the design of more innovative, effective and impactful partnerships," including by "leveraging its reputation and normative strength for aligning the business community with the values of the United Nations." It also provides an update on the activities of Global Compact and on the implementation of the UN Guidelines on Business and Human Rights (see below). Finally, the report identifies challenges in the UN's engagement with business and recommends "Creating an enabling environment for more effective and efficient partnerships with the private sector," as well as improving the function of integrity standards.
In 2010, the UN’s Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) reviewed the Global Compact. This report highlights the absence of an acceptable regulatory and institutional framework, lack of vetting of participants, and the problematic setup of the Global Compact Office (GCO) that counters existing rules and procedures of the UN. The JIU recommends Member States involvement to provide a clear mandate for the GCO and to prevent influence from “external actors” i.e. major corporations. (Joint Inspection Unit) Global Compact Governance FrameworkSeptember 2005 The Global Compact Office called the release of its new governance framework, "a constitutional milestone in the evolution of the Global Compact." However, like the old governance framework, the new document provides no specific means to hold members up to standards of corporate social responsibility. According to the new governance framework, "the initiative is not designed to monitor or measure participants' performance." (Global Compact Office)