The Global Compact and the International Labour Organization

ILO participation in the Global Compact focuses on the promotion of the four labour principles of the initiative, which derive directly from the ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work. The Global Compact asks businesses to:

  • respect freedom of association and recognize the right to collective bargaining
  • support the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour
  • join the fight for the effective abolition of child labour
  • eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

The ILO’s tripartite structure and the importance it attaches to social dialogue, play a key role in advancing the Global Compact’s purpose of bringing together the business world with labour, the UN system and other interested organizations, to have a transparent dialogue and develop partnerships.
Since the launch of the Global Compact in 1999, the ILO has been actively collaborating with the GC office in New York and the other UN agencies involved - the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) - for the realization of its key activities.

Outreach activities and development of networks

  • The ILO has participated in the organization of Global Compact launching and promotional events in different countries in close collaboration with local and international organizations of employers and other UN agencies.
  • The ILO is implementing a project funded by the Italian government that includes as an important aim, the development of Global Compact networks in Italy, Tunisia, Morocco and Albania.
  • On 24 June 2004, the Director General of the ILO attended the Global Compact Leaders’ Summit in New York to participate in the discussions about the initiative’s impact and future. The meeting brought together more than 400 corporate executives, government officials, civil society leaders and the UN agencies involved. The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, announced the addition of a tenth principle to the Compact: “business should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery”.

Policy dialogues

In May 2003, the GC policy dialogue on HIV/AIDS took place at the ILO headquarters in Geneva. The meeting explored the impact of HIV/AIDS on business, labour and development and empowered all actors to contribute to prevention, awareness-raising, care, support and treatment. It also provided an opportunity to promote the use of the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work and its accompanying manual to guide implementation. The dissemination of examples of good practice and partnership projects in this area was encouraged. This dialogue led the International Organisation of Employers and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions to adopt a historic agreement to cooperate in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.


Most of the ILO’s work with regard to the GC has focused on learning.

  • The ILO has developed a Management Training Programme aimed at developing the competencies of managers to implement and realize the four fundamental principles and rights at work. The training materials were developed in close consultation with the employers’ and workers’ organizations and have been tested in many countries since 2003.
  • The ILO, together with UNEP, produced a resource package on the GC in the form of a CD-Rom, which contains case studies on each of the GC principles, as well as resources for companies, for local networks and for training and management schools.
  • The ILO also took active part in the preparation of the source book Raising the bar: Creating value with the United Nations Global Compact, which contains tools, techniques, case studies, information and resources to help participant companies of all sizes and from all industries and regions implement the GC principles.

For further information, contact:

International Labour Organization
Multinational Enterprises Team
4, route des Morillons 
CH-1211 Geneva