Press Releases

    28 January 2004

    Transparency, Fight against Corruption Essential to Tackling Root Causes of Many Challenges, Secretary-General Tells Paris Meeting on Global Compact

    NEW YORK, 27 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary General Kofi Annan at the meeting with French President Jacques Chirac and business executives on the Global Compact in Paris today:

    I am delighted to be here.  Let me express my profound thanks to President Chirac for making France a leading country in the Global Compact movement.

    French companies are rightly seen as among today’s champions of corporate citizenship.  I am grateful to French business leaders for organizing such an impressive national movement and giving practical meaning to the Compact.

    I warmly welcome the creation of a French network in support of the Compact, which will join more than 50 such networks around the world.  I am confident that this French network will soon be leading others in creating a positive social impact.

    A special thank you to Jérôme Monod for his personal effort in creating this Network, and to Bertrand Collomb for agreeing to lead it.

    The fundamental mission of the Global Compact remains the one it was first launched with five years ago.

    That mission is:

    -- to create a global ethical framework by embracing universal principles long recognized by governments everywhere, but not yet universally implemented;

    -- to show how business can be part of the solution to the range of challenges facing society today;

    -- to identify and focus on practical projects and initiatives; and

    -- learn how to work together with all other actors in society.

    We have already achieved some highly encouraging results.  Through the Compact’s Dialogue, Learning and Project platforms, dozens of projects and initiatives have been inspired.

    Companies, together with partners such as labour and civil society, have learned that cooperation is better than confrontation.

    Hundreds of case studies and examples of best practices have helped to establish the business case for the Compact.  I welcome the addition of the French case studies presented today.

    The Compact has been a catalyst in opening up the United Nations family to new partnerships.  Today, many UN entities are ready to work in partnerships with the private sector, thus helping to find new ways of achieving the lofty goals that Member States have set.

    One of our most exciting current projects is the policy dialogue on transparency and anti-corruption, in which many of you have been taking part over the past two days.  Let me thank the participants for making their time and expertise available.

    This is a subject which is central to the UN and the Compact, as transparency and the fight against corruption are essential to tackling the root causes of many challenges.

    The fact that you are willing to come from near and far to work on this together with the UN is an expression of your engagement and commitment.  I look forward to hearing about your work in more detail, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that your work has real impact.

    In all the challenges ahead, I will need your help to ensure that the mission of the Compact remains as relevant as it is today, and that we make full use of its potential.

    That means we must find ways to scale up good practices.

    It means we must recognize that the fight against corruption is essential to give meaning to all the principles we seek to uphold, and that we need to include explicit actions towards that end.

    Ultimately, however, the Compact is in the hands of its participants.  It is my hope that the French network will become a true pace setter and innovator, and inspire many others to join our movement.

    As we prepare for the Global Compact Leaders’ Summit in New York in June, I hope I can count on your continued creativity and commitment.

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