The Global Compact : Behind a Well-Intended Discourse Lies Undemocratic Practises

In order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set in 2015, the UN formed public private sector partnerships. The Global Compact, initiated in 2000 by the Secretary General Kofi Annan, seeks to secure human rights, high labour standards and respect for the environment by committing corporations to ten universal principles. These partnerships aim to foster democratic legitimacy and social justice, by including every stakeholder in the decision-making process. However, representation of the civil society is unequal. Indeed, asymmetrical relations of power dominates the UN system. It is noticeable that in the UN specialized agency Global Compact is populated by powerful experts, bureaucrats and corporate elites, where the affected and beneficiaries have little or no say. The Global Compact Board declared its willingness to “include indigenous communities in the decision-making process” however this inclusion is a myth; the indigenous communities are not represented and are unable to defend themselves or advance their interests. They remain voiceless. How can collaboration between indigenous communities and corporations progress if one side does not have a seat at the table of negotiations of the Global Compact. Behind a well-intended discourse lies undemocratic practices. The Global Compact aimed at improving the dialogue between businesses and citizens, however it might have actually reinforced asymmetrical relations of power. Indeed, the powerful Global Compact Board, which presented a multi-stakeholder body, is undemocratic, not representing the interests of the Peoples but rather reinforcing the power of corporations.

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