Annan convenes first meeting of Global Compact Advisory Council

In a major step towards strengthening Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s expanding “Global Compact” initiative – which promotes action in support of nine internationally accepted principles on human rights, labour rights, and the environment – a group of business executives, international labour leaders, and heads of civil society organizations from across the world met at United Nations Headquarters today for the first session of the Compact’s Advisory Council. The meeting marked the creation of the first UN advisory body composed of both public and private sector leaders, who together will assist the Secretary-General in his effort to promote cooperative solutions to the dilemmas and challenges of globalization. “The world is currently involved in an ongoing historical experiment: attempting to create a truly global and inclusive market,” Mr. Annan said in his opening remarks to the members of the Advisory Council. “The outcome of this experiment depends increasingly on the foresight and political will of leaders in all sectors of society to find pragmatic solutions that transcend ideologies.”The Secretary-General challenged the Advisory Council to “think creatively about measures that might enhance the quality and concrete impact of participation in the Compact.” He also called on the Council to recruit new members and serve as champions for the initiative internationally; to make recommendations on standards of participation that will help protect the integrity of the Global Compact; and to offer suggestions on how to most effectively channel the rapidly growing global interest in the Compact.Speaking at a press briefing after the meeting, Michael Doyle, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General, said the encounter had been productive. “We had a thorough and enthusiastic discussion, taking forward the Global Compact in two areas especially – having to do with questions of governance and also new directions in leadership – so that as the Global Compact continues to grow, it not only grows in numbers, it grows in quality of participation.” To date, the Global Compact, an entirely voluntary initiative, has attracted several hundred companies from countries such as the Russian Federation, China, Brazil, India, Germany, Norway, Indonesia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.The 17 members of Advisory Council – all acting in their individual, rather than institutional capacities – have been asked by the Secretary-General to serve rotating terms of two and three years. The Advisory Council will convene for formal meetings twice per year.

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