Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


UN links contracts to Compact support

January 2010

Businesses that fail to commit to the Global Compact could find themselves frozen out of contracts and partnerships with the United Nations.

Revised guidelines on co-operation between the UN and business state that before the organization seeks to engage in deals with companies it must consider whether they ‘demonstrate a commitment to meeting or exceeding the principles of the Compact’.

This should include consideration of whether they translate the ten principles ‘into operational corporate practice within their sphere of influence – including... policies, codes of conduct, management, monitoring and reporting systems’.

Although the guidelines are open to interpretation, they appear to suggest that companies not signed up to the Compact will struggle to win UN business, and that signatories that have been subject to  Compact disciplinary measures might find themselves in a similar position.

The guidelines were first developed in 2000, setting out best practice on choosing a business partner and outlining general principles on UN-business cooperation. But they have been revised in response to UN member states’ requests that the organization place greater emphasis on the transparency, accountability and sustainability of business partnerships.  

Aside from a section on the Compact, the guidelines – which apply to the UN Secretariat as well as to separately administered organs, funds and programmes within the UN – state emphatically that no engagements will be made with firms involved in child or forced labour, human rights abuses, or the sale or manufacture of anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs.

United Nations | Global | Business ethics

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