Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Lee A. Tavis

First Page



The U.N. Global Compact initiative evolved from a challenge posed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the business community at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 1999. "I call on you--individually through your firms, and collectively through your business associations--to embrace, support, and enact a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labor standards and environmental practices." His vision is "to give a human face to the global market." Over a year of intense interaction among business chief executive officers and associations, non-governmental organizations, labor unions, and four U.N. agencies led to the formulation of nine principles. Business is invited to embrace these principles, incorporating them into their strategies and decisions. At core, the nine principles are based on fundamental human rights as articulated in various U.N. documents. The base document is, of course, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its broad acceptance provides a legitimate touchstone virtually anywhere in the world.