"I am sure you will make the right choice"

(Kofi Annan - Secretary General, United Nations
"World Economic Forum", 31st January 1999, Davos)

In line with its multi-stakeholder nature, which tends to enhance the interactivity and sharing of experiences among the members, the United Nations Global Compact has a network structure which is open to the participation of different actors: firms, business organizations, trade unions, civil society organizations, public bodies, institutions of the academic world, research centres, etc. can all join the UN Global Compact. At the same time each stakeholder is able to make a specific contribution to the UN Global Compact and from time to time to take on the role of key business partner in promoting sustainability.

  • Governments provide the essential legitimacy of the principles of the UN Global Compact and within their own country can support local networks and encourage the adoption of responsible practices, in line with the Ten Principles.
  • Trade Unions can, on the one hand, contribute to the definition of international workers' rights and, on the other hand, participate together with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to verify the real implementation of these rights in different countries.
  • Civil society organizations provide their skills and problem-solving capacities. Furthermore, they contribute to the checking of initiatives and to the validation of the UN Global Compact within society.
  • Universities have a key role as agents of change. To develop this role, the UN Global Compact has set up and promoted a platform for Principles for Responsible Management Education, establishing a framework for the voluntary action of the academic community on the education of future business leaders, undertaking research and facilitating dialogue.
  • It is clear, however, that firms are the main beneficiaries of the initiative. Participation in the UN Global Compact is open to any company willing to engage seriously in the implementation of the Ten Principles through its operations within its sphere of influence, and to communicate on the progress made towards that commitment. Each properly constituted enterprise (according to the national law), of any sector, is eligible to participate, with the exception of those companies subject to a UN sanction; listed on the UN Ineligible Vendors List for ethical reasons; involved in the production or processing of tobacco; derive revenue from the production, sale and/or transfer of antipersonnel landmines or cluster bombs.

Businesses with fewer than ten employees (micro-enterprises) will be able to apply for membership likewise all other businesses, but it is expected a longer timeline for reviewing the application and it may involve the Local Network.