The American Bar Association’s Business Law Section, representing 64,000 lawyers, has approved a letter that U.S. companies can use in signing on to the Global Compact.
The letter recognizes the value of the Global Compact in encouraging corporate consideration of universally-accepted principles to harmonize the role of business and society, stating that: “The Global Compact recognizes that, because of the wealth that business creates, businesses are part of the solution to world peace and security and a decent standard of living and quality of life”.
With the approval of this letter, attached below, U.S. companies now have an important tool to initiate their commitment to the Global Compact. The process begins when a company’s CEO, backed by its board, sends this letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. (See "About the Global Compact" > "How to Participate": www.unglobalcompact.org)
The leadership of the ABA Business Law Section expressed their hope that the
letter, with its emphasis on the voluntary nature of the Global Compact, will
allay legal-oriented concerns to U.S. corporations joining the Global
Compact. They stated:
"The Section of Business Law of the American Bar Association approves the form of entry letter set forth in the attached as an appropriate form of letter for those organizations desiring to confirm that they support the principles of the United Nations' Global Compact. The United Nations is also willing to accept variations on the attached form of entry letter. The Section of Business Law recognizes that any organization will make its own decision on whether to deliver an entry letter and makes no recommendations on whether any organization should join the Global Compact."
On a related note, Mr. Hans Corell, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs at the United Nations, delivered a keynote speech on 17 January at the Section's midwinter Council meeting in Santa Barbara, California. The speech entitled "The Business Lawyer and International Law" focused on a number of topics, including the Global Compact. Mr. Corell said that while the Global Compact is entirely voluntary in nature, it is essential that corporate lawyers take a broader look at the responsibilities of companies, noting that failure to consider issues such as human rights – especially in areas where laws are weak or nonexistent – can have damaging repercussions for a company.