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20 Sep 2021

Sanda Ojiambo, United Nations Global Compact

In Memory of John G. Ruggie: Tribute by Sanda Ojiambo and the UN Global Compact

New York, 20 September 2021

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of John Gerard Ruggie on 16 September 2021 at the age of 76. 

John Ruggie was known for his brilliant mind, but he was also a warm, thoughtful and genuine friend and colleague to so many of us at the United Nations Global Compact. 

Together with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Georg Kell, he played a pivotal role in the founding of the UN Global Compact in 2000, which over the past 21 years has grown to be the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative.

We will be forever grateful to him for his contributions to the development of our Ten Principles, which continue to be the DNA of the UN Global Compact initiative today. 

John Ruggie’s contributions to the United Nations and the business and human rights landscape were plentiful and significant. He served as United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning from 1997–2001 and played a key role in drafting the Millennium Development Goals.

He subsequently served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Business and Human Rights from 2005–2011 during which he authored the “Respect, Protect and Remedy” Framework and UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). 

His impact on the business and human rights movement cannot be overstated. He was nothing short of a pillar and institution and the immaculate thought leadership he produced through the creation of the UNGPs will have lasting effects for decades to come. 

At the time of his passing, John Ruggie was the Berthold Beitz Research Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and an Affiliated Professor in International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He is survived by his wife and his son. 

John Ruggie will be greatly missed by the UN Global Compact and its Local Networks around the world. We will carry on his legacy as we strive towards the future we want — and one he helped envision — while ensuring no one is left behind.