Meeting Expectations in the World Economy

Meeting Expectations in the World Economy: The United Nations Global Compact, April 2002

The Notre Dame Meeting

The United Nations Global Compact is a new initiative intended to increase and diffuse the benefits of global economic development through voluntary corporate policies and actions. Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, addressing the Davos World Economic Forum in January 1999, challenged business leaders to join a “global compact of shared values and principles” and give globalization a human face. Annan argued that shared values provide a stable environment for a world market and that without these explicit values business could expect backlashes from protectionism, populism, fanaticism and terrorism. Following the 1999 Davos meeting, Annan and a group of business leaders formulated nine principles, which have come to be known as the UN Global Compact.

The purpose of this conference was to advance knowledge about the Compact and its implementation among US corporations and academics. Firms already involved with issues of the Compact presented case studies dealing with their experiences, which were discussed and analyzed by experts representing various perspectives, followed by open discussion. A special focus of the meeting was the development of an ethical culture within the corporation. This conference is sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business, University of Notre Dame, and by the United Nations. The nine Principles of the Global Compact focus on human rights, labor rights, and concern for the environment. They can be summarized as follows:

  1. Support and respect the protection of International human rights within their sphere of influence.
  2. Make sure that each corporation is not complicit in human rights abuses.
  3. Uphold freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
  4. Eliminate all forms of forced and compulsory labor.
  5. Support the effective abolition of child labor.
  6. Eliminate discrimination with respect to employment and occupation.
  7. Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.
  8. Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.
  9. Encourage the development of and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. 


The Principles were designed as a voluntary initiative. Companies subscribing to the principles are invited to make a clear statement of support and to submit an annual report describing some concrete examples, “good practices,” for others to emulate. Leading by the power of good example, member companies are currently operating throughout the world. 

Company Presenters

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu 
Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Inc. 
Hewlett-Packard Co. 
Merck and Company, Inc. 
Motorola, Inc. 
Nike, Inc. 
Novartis Corporation 
Shell Oil Company

Organizing Committee

Gerald F. Cavanagh, S.J., Charles T. Fisher III Chair of Business Ethics, University of Detroit Mercy

David Collins, Vice Chairman, Johnson and Johnson (Ret.)

Kirk O. Hanson, Executive Director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and University Professor of Organizations and Society, Santa Clara University

Georg Kell, Senior Officer, Executive Office of the Secretary General; and Director, United Nations Global Compact Office

Ron Nahser, Chairman and CEO, The Globe Group, Chicago, IL

James E. Post, Professor of Management, Boston University

Lee E. Preston, Professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

S. Prakash Sethi, Academic Director of Executive Programs, Zicklin School of Business, The City University of New York

Sandra Waddock, Professor of Management, Boston College

Oliver F. Williams, C.S.C., Director, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business, The Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame

Conference report.