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Global Compact Announces Project on Human Rights Dilemmas for Responsible Business

(New York, December 10, 2008) – Today, the United Nations Global Compact and Maplecroft have initiated a research and solutions forum project on “Human Rights Dilemmas for Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) in Emerging Markets”. The project, funded by a three-year grant by the GE Foundation to the Foundation for the Global Compact, aims to enhance understanding of human rights dilemmas for responsible business, thereby contributing to global thought leadership and best practice, especially in emerging markets.

The report will include extensively researched, in-depth case studies of human rights dilemmas, considered from the perspective of different stakeholders, as well as a set of practical solutions to these dilemmas from different stakeholder viewpoints.

The initiative will feature an online forum to discuss case studies and contribute practical solutions to human rights dilemmas faced by business, as well as the following activities designed to facilitate multi-stakeholder consultation:

  • The identification of key human rights dilemmas and development of relevant business case studies – building on previous UN Global Compact, Maplecroft and other leading-edge research and publications to enhance coherence for business.
  • The establishment and convening of a moderated discussion and solutions forum of human rights dilemmas and solutions amongst different stakeholder groups. The solutions forum will actively engage and invite feedback and solutions from different stakeholders worldwide – including MNCs, international organizations as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and academics. Access to dilemmas will be available online through www.unglobalcompact.org and hosted by Maplecroft through its in-house IT function.
  • The collation and publication of a landmark report including multi-stakeholder reviewed dilemmas, case studies and best practice solutions, augmented with viewpoints and quotes from a selection of stakeholder groups and organizations.

Alignment with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The solutions forum will be launched on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 2008, with a project introduction and invitation to participate. Dilemmas, associated case studies and potential solutions will be progressively added until the end of December 2009.

The final report will incorporate selected findings from the solutions forum, as well as additional stakeholder engagement and primary in-field research, in order to provide practical solutions to each dilemma. It will help foster a greater awareness of human rights dilemmas and improve the relationship between business and its stakeholders. In particular, these stakeholders include employees and local communities in emerging economies as well as civil society organizations and local business.

Results of all work will be shared at relevant UN Global Compact and other events throughout the 2008 calendar year, with a draft summary report being available for the 2009 anniversary of Human Rights Day. The intended audience for the final report, due in December 2010, is MNCs.  The report will be available to all in the public domain, including international organizations, non-governmental organizations, academics, and the general population.

“Businesses all over the world need practical solutions to the dilemmas that arise in the context of their efforts to respect and support human rights”, said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “We are delighted to be involved in this project, which will make an important contribution to further advance this critical issue. The inclusive approach and emphasis on broad participation are of particular importance to us”. 

“This project on human rights dilemmas for responsible business will build on previous work in this field including Maplecroft’s human rights risk country analyses”, said Professor Alyson Warhurst, Founding Director, Maplecroft. “In particular, the solutions forum will promote an advanced, technology-driven, learning dialogue which will facilitate innovative engagement with a range of stakeholders. Our aim is to enhance learning in the field of business and human rights and to contribute towards principles for resolving many of the human rights dilemmas that responsible businesses face when working in countries where human rights risks are high”.

“GE is a signatory to the Global Compact and we are pleased to support this important contribution in the field of business and human rights”, said Bob Corcoran, president of the GE Foundation and vice president of corporate citizenship for GE.  “The results of this research and case studies will enlighten stakeholders worldwide and further facilitate important dialogues on human rights in emerging markets”.

About the United Nations Global Compact

The United Nations Global Compact is both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With over 5,000 signatories in more than 130 countries, it is the world's largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative.

About the GE Foundation

The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of the General Electric Company, works to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems.  In coordination with its partners, it supports U.S. and international education, the environment, public policy, human rights, and disaster-relief around the globe.  In addition, the GE Foundation supports GE employee and retiree giving and involvement in GE communities around the world.  In 2007, the GE family including businesses, employees, retirees and GE Foundation contributed more than $210 million to community and educational programs, including $93 million from the GE Foundation.  For more information, visit www.gefoundation.com .

About Maplecroft

Maplecroft is a specialist research and advisory company established in 2001. It helps both business and humanitarian organizations to manage global risks and responsibilities, build reputation and harness leadership opportunities. Creative design and software engineering are combined with meticulous analysis of the political, economic, social and environmental landscape, to communicate risk and responsibility in visually compelling ways. Maplecroft is a trusted advisor to some of the world’s leading businesses. Its employees are among the world’s leading non-financial risk analysts and thought leaders. Specialist services include carbon foot-printing, human rights monitoring, ethical value chain management, stakeholder engagement as well as award-winning sustainability reporting. Maplecroft has extensive expertise in the area of business and human rights. This includes the publication of human rights risk indices since 2004 and the first ever sub-national human right risk indices, maps and country scorecards (due 1 December 2008).  For more information, visit www.maplecroft.com .


United Nations Global Compact
Matthias Stausberg
+1 (0) 917 367 3423

Kevin Franklin
+44 (0) 1225 420 000

GE Foundation
Frank Mantero
+1 (0) 203 373 3534