With the support of business and other stakeholders, the UN Global Compact’s governance framework was adopted by then UN Secretary-General Annan on 12 August 2005 following a year long international process co-led by Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact and Professor John Ruggie, then Special Advisor to the Secretary-General. That process included studying networked governance models of other cutting-edge global action and solution networks and holding focus groups with participants and stakeholders, including governments, local networks, and academics. The resulting governance framework distributes governance functions among several entities so as to engage participants and stakeholders at the global and local levels in making decisions and giving advice on the matters of greatest importance to their role and participation in the UN Global Compact and to reflect the initiative’s public-private and multi-stakeholder character.
Refinements have been made since 2005 including the establishment of the UN Global Compact Government Group to formalize Governments’ role as well as the creation of the Local Networks Advisory Group to facilitate exchange of information and input to and from the UN Global Compact Headquarters and the growing number of Local Networks around the world (86 as of November 2014). The governance framework consists of the following nodes of decision-making and advice provision:
The UN Global Compact’s General Assembly mandate (A/RES/68/234) is to “promote responsible business practices and UN values among the global business community and the UN System.”
The governance of the UN Global Compact is comprised of the following main elements:
The UN Global Compact Leaders Summit is a triennial gathering (the last one was held in 2013) of the most senior executives of UN Global Compact participants and other stakeholders from government, civil society, academia, Local Networks and the UN. The event aims to deepen the commitment of the participating leaders to the UN Global Compact and to produce strategic guidance for the continued evolution of the UN Global Compact for maximum impact. Past Leaders Summits have, for example, adopted the 10th principle of the UN Global Compact on anti-corruption (2004), endorsed the concept of corporate sustainability leadership in the Global Compact Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership (2010), and adopted the Post 2015 Business Engagement Architecture (2013) that continue to guide the UN Global Compact’s work in fundamental ways. Major changes to the UN Global Compact, such as to its governance, would require at least a virtual Summit to obtain the support of UN Global Compact participants. This was done, for example, when the 10th principle was added in 2004.
UN Global Compact Board
A high level multi-stakeholder UN Global Compact Board that is chaired by the UN Secretary-General, which meets every 6-9 months. It decides entry and exit criteria for signatories to the initiative and sets policy on the Global Compact’s integrity measures as well as overseeing their implementation. On other matters relating to the initiative and UN-business cooperation, it provides high-level strategic advice to the UN Secretary-General and the Global Compact Office. The ED of the Global Compact Office, the Chair of the Foundation for the Global Compact, and the Chair of the LNAG (see below) are ex-officio members of the Board. Board members drawn from the business community must maintain the support of the Local Network in their country. Board members chair the Global Compact’s various issue working groups and workstreams. No major changes to the UN Global Compact can be made without discussion and agreement with the Board, Local Networks and Leaders Summit. Learn more about the UN Global Compact Board.
Annual Local Networks Forum
An Annual Local Networks Forum at which the 80+ country networks of the Global Compact convene and decide on policy relating to the governance of Local Networks. Between its annual meetings, there are regional fora to discuss issues at the regional level. There is also a Local Networks Advisory Group (LNAG) to ensure high quality information flows between the Global Compact HQ and Local Networks and facilitate Local Network input into Global Compact HQ activities. As indicated above, the Chair of the LNAG is an ex-officio member of the Global Compact Board. Learn more about the LNAG.
At the country level, governance of the initiative is handled by Local Networks themselves. Local Networks are clusters of participants (business and non business) who come together to advance the Global Compact principles and UN goals within a particular geographic context. The relationship between Local Networks and Global Compact HQ is set out in a Memorandum of Understanding that each signs on an annual basis that lays out clear expectations of both parties. Learn more about Local Networks.
Global Compact Headquarters
Global Compact HQ, comprised of the UN Global Compact Office and the Foundation for the Global Compact, is responsible for day-day coordination of the initiative as a whole. The Global Compact Office serves as Secretariat for the Global Compact Board and for the LNAG. The Global Compact Office works closely with the Foundation for the Global Compact, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit established in 2006 to support the Global Compact Office and Global Compact related activities. The ED of the Global Compact Office reports to the UN Secretary-General through the EOSG and is responsible for preparing the SG’s biennial report on principle-based business-UN relations under the agenda item Towards Global Partnerships, which also reports on Global Compact activities. As indicated above, the ED of the Global Compact Office has an ex-officio seat on the Global Compact Board. The Chair of the Foundation for the Global Compact also has an ex-officio seat on the Global Compact Board as its Vice Chair.
Global Compact Government Group & Friends of the Global Compact
Governments that contribute to the Global Compact Trust Fund, which helps to fund the initiative, convene biannually in a Global Compact Government Group to review budgets and progress respectively. The remainder of funding is provided through a collaborative arrangement with the Foundation for the Global Compact, a non-profit with its own Board. Governments also convene through the Friends of the Global Compact, a group of representatives from Missions to the UN in New York that convene around 4 times annually to receive briefings on the progress of the UN Global Compact. View the Government Terms of References.