The UN Global Compact stands with the United Nations and world leaders in expressing our deep concern about the ongoing war in Ukraine and unequivocal demand for peace. This unlawful and unprovoked attack by Russia serves as a timely and tragic reminder that we need to reject conflict anywhere as an affront to peace everywhere.
The member states of the United Nations have responded to this war quickly and almost unanimously, deploring “in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.” The message is loud and clear: End hostilities in Ukraine — now. Silence the guns — now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy — now.
We are witnessing devastating consequences within Ukraine and around the world. Humanitarian needs are multiplying and spreading by the hour, with civilians, in particular the most vulnerable such as women, children, elderly people and those with disabilities, paying the highest price. Globally, there is a mounting crisis, including the consequences on food security for many countries, especially for low-income food import dependent countries. The war also shows how the global addiction to fossil fuels is placing energy security, climate action and the entire global economy at the mercy of geopolitics. To take immediate action to support humanitarian relief efforts, this Business Guide explains how businesses can support the Secretary-General’s three-month Flash Appeal for people in Ukraine, and a Regional Refugee Response Plan for the situation outside.
There are already more than 2.3 million refugees from Ukraine who have crossed into neighboring countries — the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Among them are more than 110,000 Third Country Nationals. With Ukraine’s neighbors compassionately and generously taking in those seeking safety, it is important that this solidarity be extended without discrimination. We echo the words of the UN Secretary-General in saying that the international community must give those affected our unequivocal support “without any discrimination based on race, religion or ethnicity.”
To be sure, we are at a critical juncture in the world where we have seen that history is repeating itself in ways that are not progressive for business, for society and for the world. The UN Global Compact’s mandate promotes moving “towards global partnerships: a principle-based approach to enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners”. The basis of our work is captured in our Ten Principles — comprising human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. They are grounded in UN Conventions which form the bedrock of peaceful societies and the conditions for resilient and sustainable business.
These Principles have never been more relevant. Businesses must take action to ensure their activities – throughout their operations, supply chains, and investment portfolios – are consistent with the Ten Principles and international standards.
To begin with, international humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld. This includes protecting and supporting employees. Companies that have workers in the area should take all measures to ensure that their employees in affected locations are safe. They can also enable workers to support relatives in Ukraine, Russia, and other affected countries.
Businesses must support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights law and make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses. This includes reassessing human rights risks and exposure to potential harm in business operations, supply chain and other business relations or responsibility, and to address actual and potential adverse human rights impacts. Companies are encouraged to undertake heightened human rights due diligence, taking a conflict-sensitive approach by adapting due diligence measures to the specific needs and vulnerable communities in conflict-affected contexts.
And as the lines between politics and economics become increasingly blurred, the question is no longer if responsible businesses should engage, but how they should do so.
Businesses have a crucial role to play in reimagining the social contract and reinforcing public trust by partnering with the UN, Governments and civil society towards peace, justice and strong institutions. This cannot be achieved without calling on all actors for greater accountability, integrity and transparency; for greater protection of fundamental freedoms; and for greater respect for the rule of law. Businesses everywhere can take concrete action in their activities and partnerships to support these efforts and engage in our work on Transformational Governance.
In 2020, as the UN celebrated 75 years and the UN Global Compact was marking its 20th year, more than 1,300 CEOs from over 100 countries around the world acknowledged the importance of inclusive multilateralism through ‘United in the Business of a Better World: A Statement from Business Leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation’. Now, more than ever, there is a need to recall the spirit of that statement and the United Nations Charter, which sets out "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights...and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained."
The UN Global Compact calls on principled business leaders around the world to renew and amplify their commitment to peace and support the people of Ukraine.
This war must stop. The people in Ukraine desperately need peace. And people around the world demand it. We must give peace a chance.
CEO & Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact
New York, 15 of March 2022