INDONESIA: The UN Global Compact and Accountability of Trans-National Corporations

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to inform you about a paper‘the UN Global Compact: Mainstreaming human rights to strengthen the accountability of trans-national corporations.” The paper is written by Chris Biantoro, a human rights lawyer and Indonesia desk officer at the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Hong Kong. For further reading of the paper available here.

This paper will make an assessment on the implementation of the Principles of the UN Global Compact. Particular focus will be on Principles 1 and 2. These concern human rights based on some actual practices by corporations who voluntarily joined the Compact. This paper will try to address the following two issues/questions.

Is voluntary membership in the Compact effective in mainstreaming Human Rights to member companies?

How does the Global Compact guarantee the seriousness of the companies in implementing the principles of the Global Compact in their corporate policies around the world?

This paper argues that the Global Compact, through a voluntary relationship, brings a positive influence on companies’ behavior. They try to incorporate the Compact principles, particularly human rights, in dealing with the communities in which they operate. This would be: how they treat their workers and employees and how they deal with sensitive environmental problems. Moreover, the Compact has been a framework for other global initiatives and unilateral company initiatives in dealing with globalization. To support this thesis, the paper stresses that the Global Compact engages companies and other business sectors. They do this through membership and sharing of best practices and ideas on how to implement Principles in the operation of a business. Additionally, the influence of the Compact extends to non-members by serving as the inspiration and model of their goals in their various activities under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. Moreover, the Compact has strategic partnerships with other global initiatives: Global Report Initiatives (GRI), The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to harmonize the principles and best practices on how to deal with human rights and business.