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Citizens Compact

on the United Nations and Corporations
January 28th, 1998

Please Note: This action has been discontinued.
Thank you for your support!


In January 1999, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan called for a "Global Compact" between the UN and the business community. In that compact, he challenged business leaders to embrace and enact nine core principles derived from UN agreements on labor standards, human rights and environmental protection. In exchange, he promised, the UN will support free trade and open markets.

Citizen organizations and movements recognize that the private sector has enormous influence on human health, environment, development and human rights. Everyone shares the hope that economic well-being will bring real human development and ecological security. Yet as Unicef Executive Director Carol Bellamy has said, "It is dangerous to assume that the goals of the private sector are somehow synonymous with those of the United Nations because they most emphatically are not." At times corporations work at cross purposes to the wider realization of rights and responsibilities enshrined in United Nations covenants, declarations and agreements.

The growing concentration of wealth and power in the hands of fundamentally undemocratic global corporations and other institutions of globalization with no accountability to governments or peoples is in direct conflict with the principles and aims of the United Nations to enhance human dignity and the capacity for self-governance. As the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights puts it, the UN should not support institutions or corporations whose activities "create benefits for a small privileged minority at the expense of an increasingly disenfranchised majority."

Citizen organizations and movements support the mission and values of the United Nations. These objectives must have primacy of place and must not be subordinated to commercial trade, investment and finance rules. The UN, as an institution that prioritizes human rights, health, labor standards, sustainable development and ecological protection over commercial interests, must have the capacity to exercise its mandate.

Citizens organizations and movements recognize that declining financial support from governments to the UN and its specialized agencies make their job harder. The UN must adjust to these circumstances; however it must do so while adhering to its Charter and its impartiality, and without compromising its commitment to its fundamental principles.

We propose a compact between the UN and civil society, regarding the UN's relationship with the private sector. With this compact, we pledge our active support for a strengthening of the United Nations, financially and politically. Adherence to these nine principles will safeguard the image, mission and credibility of the United Nations as it deals with the private sector.


  • Multinational corporations are too important for their conduct to be left to voluntary and self-generated standards. A legal framework, including monitoring, must be developed to govern their behavior on the world stage.

  • The United Nations will continue to develop tools to ensure universal values of environmental protection and human rights, through such mechanisms as multilateral environmental and human rights agreements, codes of marketing, and ILO conventions.

  • The United Nations recognizes the legitimate purpose of national and local legislation to protect ecosytems, human health, labor standards, and human rights. The United Nations will assist civil society and governments in enacting and implementing such legislation.

  • The UN must find ways to ensure that other intergovernmental bodies, such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO, do not depart from the principles and goals of the UN Charter.

  • United Nations agencies will advise and offer assistance to corporations wishing to understand and improve their human rights and environmental behavior. Such assistance will not be considered a "partnership."

  • The United Nations does not endorse or promote products or brand names of any private corporation, and will avoid the appearance of such endorsements.

  • The United Nations will avoid any public association or financial relationship with companies with destructive practices, or products that are harmful to human health or the environment. Before entering any relationship with a corporation, the UN will thoroughly evaluate whether the objectives of that company are compatible with those of the UN. In doing so, it must set up open and transparent processes of dialogue with NGOs and community groups with expertise on those corporations' activities.

  • The United Nations and its agencies will continue to fulfill their mission with funding from governments. In cases where private corporations wish to make a donation, the money will go to programs that have no connection to commercial projects for that company.

  • The UN will act with full transparency in all its dealings with the private sector, at the conceptual, planning and implementation stages. NGOs should have access to the same information in this regard as the private sector.

Davos, Switzerland
January 28, 2000

If you would like to add your organization to the list of endorsers, please send the name of your group, contact person, city and country where the organization is located to At this time we are asking, organizations only, not individuals, to sign on. Thank you for your support.

ENDORSERS (Partial List)

(Fr.) Brian D. Byrne SVD, Coordinator
Justice, Peace and Integity of Creation Divine Word Missionaries
Sydney, Australia

Gustav E. Jackson, Executive Director
Guyana Research and Environmental Education Network (G.R.E.E.N.)
Georgetown, Guyana, South America

Martin Khor and Chee Yoke Ling
Third World Network

Thomas Wallgren, Senior Research Fellow
Academy of Finland

Agnès Bertrand and Etienne Vernet
Paris, France

John Cavanagh, Director
Institute for Policy Studies
Washington DC, USA

Shahid Husain, Senior Reporter
Financial Post Daily
Karachi, Pakistan

La Raw Maran, Executive Director
Kachin-Americans and Friends, USA, Inc. for Democracy and Human Rights in Burma
Champaign, Illinois, USA

Ashish Kothari
Kalpavriksh - Environmental Action Group
Pune, India

Alfredo Quarto
Mangrove Action Project
Port Angeles, Washington, USA

Alice Slater
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE)
New York, USA

Tim Lang
Professor of Food Policy
Thames Valley University
Centre for Food Policy
London, UK

Miguel Grinberg
Promundo Internacional
Buenos Aires, Argentina

P V Satheesh, Director
Deccan Development Society
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh State, India

Pipob Udomittipong
Foundation for Children, Foreign Desk

Smitu Kothari
Lokayan and International Group for Grassroots Initiatives
Delhi, India

Debbie Stothard, Coordinator
Altsean-Burma (Alternative Asean Network on Burma)
Bangkok, Thailand

Jolanda Piniel
Berne Declaration
Zurich, Switzerland

Yash Tandon, Director
International South Group Network

Herb Barbolet, Executive Director
FarmFolk/CityFolk Society
Vancouver, Canada

Maurizio Farhan Ferrari
Forest Peoples Programme, UK
Forest Peoples Programme (FPP)*
Moreton-in-Marsh, England
*The FPP is an affiliate of the World Rainforest Movement

Miloon Kothari, Coordinator
International NGO Committee on Human Rights in Trade and Investment
New Delhi, India

Jerry Eldridge, Secretary-General
Habitat International Coalition
Cape Town, South Africa

Edith Mirante, Project Director
Project Maje
Portland, Oregon, USA

Himanshu Thakkar
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People
New Delhi, India

Larry Dohrs
Seattle Burma Roundtable, part of the Free Burma Coalition
Seattle, Washington, USA

Elisabeth Sterken, Chair
International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)

John Sellers, Director
The Ruckus Society
Berkeley, California, USA

Kalyanee Shah, President
SEWA (Socio-Economic Welfare Action for Women and Children)
Kathmandu, Nepal

Mike Prokosch
United for a Fair Economy
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Antonia Juhasz, Director, International Trade and Forest Programs
American Lands Alliance
Washington DC, USA

Anthony Coughlan, Secretary
National Platform
Dublin, Ireland

Bonnie Campbell (Dr.)
Professor of Political Economy
Dept. of Political Science
University of Quebec in Montreal
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Roger Normand, Policy Director
Center for Economic and Social Rights
New York, USA

Mr. Rimantas Braziulis, Chairman
Lithuanian Green Movement/Friends of the Earth Lithuania

Mr. Saulius Piksrys, Chairman
"Atgaja" Community

Arnold Ward
South Australian Genetic
Food Information Network
Adelaide, Australia

Peter Niggle
Swiss Coalition of Development Organizations
Bern, Switzerland

Tony Juniper, Policy and Campaigns Director
Friends of the Earth
England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Devinder Sharma
Delhi, India

Bill Ellis
Rangeley, Maine, USA

Urs Sekinger, Coordinator
SOLIFONDS (Solidarity Fund for the Struggles for Social Liberation in the Third World)
Zurich, Switzerland

Heidi Hautala
Member of the European Parliament
President of the Green/European Free Alliance Group at the EP

Danny Kennedy, Director
Project Underground
Berkeley, California, USA

Philipp Mimkes
Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren
Duesseldorf, Germany

Paula Palmer, Executive Director
Global Response
Boulder, Colorado, USA

Cherie Hoyle
Urban Ecology Australia Inc.
Adelaide, Australia

Christine Plüss
Arbeitskreis Tourismus & Entwicklung (Working Group on Tourism and Development)
Basel, Switzerland

Rosemary Everett, SNJM, Justice and Peace Coordinator
Sisters of the Holy Names
Santa Clara, California, USA

Michael M'Gonigle and Laure Waridel, Eco-Research Chair
Environmental Law and Policy,
University of Victoria
Victoria, Canada

Kevin Heppner
Karen Human Rights Group
Burma / Thailand

Ville-Veikko Hirvelä
Friend of the Earth Finland

Romina Picolotti, Executive Director
Centro de Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Nathan B. Karnes, President
United Nations Association of the USA,
Greater New Haven Chapter
New Haven, Connecticut, USA

(Dr) John Hermann, National Coordinator
Economic Reform Austrialia

Iza Kruszewska, International Programmes Coordinator
ANPED, Northern Alliance for Sustainability
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Rev. Dr. Douglas B. Hunt, Washington and United Nations Representative
Network for Environmental and Economic Responsibility of the United Church of Christ
Wheaton, Maryland, USA

David C. Korten, Rresident
The People-Centered Development Forum

Suren Moodliar, International Organizer
Boston, Massachusettes, USA

Lauren Gwin, Development Director
Project Underground
Berkeley, California, USA

Lorenzo Muelas-Hurtado
Movimiento Autoridades Indígenas de Colombia

Martina Schaub, Kampagnenleiterin TradeWatch
Bonn, Germany

Silke Spielmans & Sabine Schupp
BUKO Agro Coordination
Hamburg, Germany

PDHRE - People's Decade of Human Rights Education
New York, USA

ITeM, Instituto del Tercer Mundo
Montevideo, Uruguay

Steve Koehler, President
Rayonier Hazardous Waste Cleanup Project
Olympic Environmental Council
Port Angeles, Washington, USA

Sally Hall
Association for Environment Conscious Building
United Kingdom

Stephane Martel
ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU)
Montreal, Canada

Ann Heidnereich
Potsdam, New York, USA

Global Exchange
San Francisco, CA, USA

Center for Balanced Development
Sterling, Virginia, USA

Kalle Lasn, Executive Director
Adbusters Media Foundation
Vancouver, Canada

Humanist Movement
Delhi, India

Centro Nuovo Modello di Sviluppo
Vecchiano (Pisa), Italy

Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility
United Church of Christ
Pleasant Hill, TN, USA

Obed Watershed Association
Crossville, TN, USA

Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice
Pleasant Hill, TN, USA