"I am sure you will make the right choice"
(Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the 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 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 Global Compact. At the same time each stakeholder is able to make a specific contribution to the 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 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 Global Compact within society.
- Universities have a key role as agents of change. To develop this role, the 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 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 involved in the production or processing of tobacco; in its manufacture, sale and distribution, as well as in the possession and transportation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; in the manufacture, sale, etc. of landmines or cluster bombs. The applicant company is then verified through a global database to see if it is subject to sanctions or other measures by the UN Security Council or other international institutions. Companies that have been suspended or removed for ethical reasons by the United Nations Procurement Division or by an International Financial Institution are excluded from participation for the duration of the sanction or of the measure employed.
>> Due to administrative impediments, companies with less than ten employees (micro-enterprises) will not be included in the Global Compact participants' database. However, micro-enterprises are encouraged to keep themselves updated about the activities of the Global Compact by consulting the website www.unglobalcompact.org and making contact with the Global Compact Network Italy.