[PDF] Remarks at Opening Plenary UN Global Compact Leaders Forum

Author: John Ruggie, Harvard University, former UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, Published on: 20 September 2013

I am humbled by the sheer magnitude of the challenges we face. But...I am also proud of what we have achieved in just a few short years. We have demonstrated that even seemingly intractable obstacles can yield to concerted and imaginative efforts that refuse to be denied...The new Business Engagement Architecture, like the Global Compact itself, rests on the business responsibility to “respect” and “support” internationally recognized values, standards [Respecting human rights means to] treat people with dignity, be they workers, communities in which you operate, or other stakeholders. But while the meaning is simple, mere declarations of respect by business no longer suffice: companies must have systems in place to know and show that they respect rights...[T]o all the leaders gathered here today: thank you for charting the path on the sustainability journey. The stakes are high; the time is short; the cost of getting it wrong is incalculable while the opportunities from getting it right are legion. So there’s really only one thing for us to do: let’s get it right.

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