|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Companies, Like Countries, Can Be Asked to Act in Principled Way, Says Deputy
Secretary-General, Welcoming Ministerial Statement at Global Compact Summit
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s closing remarks at the ministerial session of the Global Compact Leaders Summit, yesterday, in New York:
The Ministerial Statement you have agreed is a strong and timely articulation of your support for corporate responsibility and private sector engagement in development. In it you have also provided guidance and concrete ideas for action. I hope this statement will inspire Governments all over the world to follow your lead.
I spoke earlier about the impact that corporate responsibility has had on development aroun
d the world. But it is equally true that in the decade since we launched the Global Compact, a new way of thinking has also emerged within the United Nations.
There is a new awareness that United Nations values, which were traditionally used to forge understanding among nations, could be applied to the private sector. Companies, like countries, can be called on to act in a principled way wherever and whenever they operate.
In the same year that the Compact was born, world leaders promised in the Millennium Declaration to spare no effort to free their fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty. Together, this new thinking and this new promise have inspired great hope, and have led to a truly impressive mobilization of people and resources around the world.
Now, we must accelerate progress. We need businesses everywhere to align their operations and strategies with the 10 United Nations Global Compact principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption, and to take action to advance the Millennium Development Goals.
Principles and development activities are two sides of the same coin. Together, they define the meaning and practice of good corporate citizenship. Only then can business help to ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies.
We need decisive joint action. Let me suggest three areas that urgently need greater support from business: First, Africa. It is widely recognized that Africa, and particularly sub-Saharan Africa, still faces the greatest challenges in attaining the Millennium Development Goals. My call to you is: Provide incentives and be a partner to private sector activities in Africa.
Second, women. Healthy and empowered women are the answer to solving many of the world's most complex and pressing problems: poverty; hunger; disease; and political instability. Investments in women trigger greater progress for all. My call to you is: Support the Women’s Empowerment Principles to be launched tomorrow.
Third, health. Despite some progress, deaths among children under five remain high. Improved neonatal and maternal care could save millions of newborns. My call to you is: Support the United Nations Children’s Fund’s [UNICEF] Children’s Principles, which will also be announced tomorrow.
These three priorities, and many other challenges and issues, will be front and centre at the Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York in September.
I look forward to your contributions to a successful summit, and wish you productive and engaging talks during at this groundbreaking Global Compact event. I hope that you will return to your countries with new motivation, new ideas and new commitments.
* *** *For information media • not an official record