‘Voluntary Reporting: The Global Compact’

The presentation of the United Nation’s (UN) Global Compact (hereinafter “GC” or “Compact”) in a book dedicated to monitoring mechanisms requires an urgent clarification: the GC itself is not a monitoring mechanism meant to deliver corporate accountability. Still, the Compact is an important hub in a broader network of initiatives dealing with responsible business practices and corporate accountability. Furthermore, the GC has reporting requirements that have recently been strengthened. The initiative began as a personal initiative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1999, as an attempt to address imbalances of economic globalisation; his aim was to enrol companies in a renewed push by the United Nations to achieve its goals of peace, development and poverty-reduction. By inviting businesses to the table, the UN has embarked with the Global Compact on a controversial journey through uncharted territory. The article begins with a description of the initiative itself. The provisions of the Compact regarding corporate reporting will be detailed as well as the GC’s relationship with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which is a scheme dedicated solely to sustainability reporting. After that some broader observations on corporate reporting from a human rights perspective will follow.

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