‘A Necessary Supplement’ — What the United Nations Global Compact Is (and Is Not)

  • Andreas Rasche


Since its operational launch in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact has attracted a good deal of both support and criticism. The Compact represents the world’s largest network-based voluntary corporate citizenship initiative.1 The term ‘corporate citizenship’ is adopted here from the literature as a descriptor for a voluntary change of business practices to meet the responsibilities imposed on firms by their stakeholders.2 It is, however, outside the scope of this chapter to undertake a careful delineation of its similarities and differences with ‘corporate responsibility’. Although progress has been made in terms of the large number of business and non-business participants (now numbering 7,300) and improvements in business practices have been presented (McKinsey3 concludes that nine out of ten participants are doing more towards the Compact’s principles than they were 5 years ago), this progress also brought about a lot of criticism, largely from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academics and the wider press. Thérien and Pouliot,4 for instance, argue that the Compact fosters a ‘pro-market spin’ that breaks with the UN’s traditional position and thus is eroding its legitimacy in the long run. Amnesty International5 complains about the missing accountability of the initiative and asks for a more rigorous assessment of whether participants are really complying with the principles. In a more radical way, Sethi argues that the Compact ‘provides a venue for opportunistic companies to make grandiose statements of corporate citizenship without worrying about being called to account for their actions’.6


Corporate Social Responsibility Business Ethic Supra Note Corporate Responsibility Corporate Social Performance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Andreas Rasche 2011

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  • Andreas Rasche

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