15 December 2003


NEW YORK, 12 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the toast by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Global Compact dinner hosted by German Chancellor Schroeder in Berlin on 11 December:

Thank you for those very warm words and for hosting this dinner.  And especially, thank you for the whole-hearted support that you and your Government have given to my Global Compact initiative, ever since I first announced it nearly five years ago.

Indeed, I cannot think of any other Government that has done so much to support the Compact.

Joschka [Fischer], you were the first to welcome it in the United Nations General Assembly, and the political support of your office has been invaluable.

Heidemarie [Wieczorek], your Ministry [of Economic Development] provides expertise and resources for the Compact’s “learning forum”.

And Wolfgang [Clement], as Minister of Labour, you have helped to ensure the Compact benefits from the views of trade unions.

In fact, Germany’s partnership model -- the way Government, business, unions and civil society work together on the basis of social consensus -- provided some of the inspiration for the whole concept of the Compact. 

I am extremely grateful for these contributions.  Leadership from the very top makes an enormous difference.

I would also like to thank the heads of companies and other business leaders who are here tonight.  Many of you are founding participants in the Compact, who had the courage to step forward and declare that human rights, environmental protection, and decent workplace standards are not just matters for governments to handle, but also of crucial importance to you, as businessmen and women. 

You have also supported the Compact in very concrete ways, by identifying and spreading good practices, and by transferring technology and training to the developing world.  At this very minute, in Bela Horizonte, Brazil, some of your companies are sharing experiences at the annual Global Compact learning forum.  Thank you for helping the Compact to take root there and around the world.

The Compact has undoubtedly made progress, but we are still fighting an uphill battle on many fronts. 

-- HIV/AIDS continues to take a devastating toll.  It is straining public health systems to breaking point.  It also threatens industrial and agricultural productivity and, in some countries, governance itself. 

-- Climate change threatens to wreak havoc in our lifetime, and will impose enormous costs on private insurance companies and public entities alike. 

-- The lack of progress in trade negotiations is sending a deeply disturbing message to the developing world, raising further doubts about the sustainability of globalization in its current shape.  That is especially true so long as we fail to eliminate the production subsidies and import barriers that currently make it so hard for poor countries to make headway in global agricultural markets -- the very ones where, given the chance, they could be most competitive.

-- And of course, divisions over Iraq in the past year have shaken the foundations of collective security, causing great uncertainty and anxiety around the world and diverting resources away from the developing countries that need them most.

So this is a moment for you to take a stand, not only on specific issues of direct interest to your business, but on the entire enterprise of international cooperation.  It is time for global business, global civil society, global trade unions and governments to act as true global citizens. Together, we can build an open economy in the world, and open societies at home -- societies that are outward-looking and ready to work with others on a collective response to the many threats and challenges that we all face.

The key role of business in creating wealth, jobs and opportunity is now widely recognized and understood.  In your spheres of influence, up and down your supply chains, in your business-to-business contacts, and in your relations with consumers, you have considerable power.  I hope you will use it to spread the good habits of corporate citizenship.  I hope you will urge your colleagues and partners, in and beyond Germany, to embrace, as you have done, the universal principles on which the Compact is based.  And I hope you will be at United Nations Headquarters next June for the Summit meeting on the Compact that I will be convening.

Thank you again for taking time from your busy schedules to be here tonight.  I look forward to deepening this very constructive partnership.

And thank you, Chancellor, for this fine display of global citizenship!

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