The Global Compact's ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption enjoy universal consensus and are derived from:
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- The International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
- The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
- The United Nations Convention Against Corruption
- Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
- Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
At this point the educated know-nothings posing as the left's elite will bleat on about sweat shops and the like without admitting that workers in Third World sweatshops earned more than the average salary in their countries. When pressure came to bear on companies like Nike jobs were lost (from South America to China) and former workers were left with no income and no prospects. This is a clear example of what happens when the rubber of what appears to be a morally correct, compassionate position actually hits the road.
The greatest human rights abuses occur every day in Sudan, Somalia, Iran, North Korea, China, Cuba and, increasingly, Venezuela and other nascent South American dictatorships. None of these abuses, in which millions of people have been killed, tortured or imprisoned in the few years since the beginning of the new millennium have had anything to do with business. They are all down to corrupt regimes, religious intolerance and the predictable outcome of socialist policies.
How can business make an impact on the human rights abuses of Darfur? The violence of expansionist Islam? The gulag known as North Korea?
It can't. Obviously.
- Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
- Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
- Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
- Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Cuba, North Korea, China etc etc all have forced and compulsory labour regimes yet the United Nations does nothing to deal with them. Furthermore, it propounds eliminating compulsory labour while at the same time advocating for business to compulsorily negotiate with labour organisations.
The issue of child labour is probably only in the list to pull at people's heart strings, as it has been pretty effectively dealt with over the last couple of decades. Not to say it doesn't go on at all, it does, but it's hardly an endemic problem.
The UN and its supporters puts themselves in an awkward position when they attack Western Countries (and particularly the US) for having discriminatory employment regimes. The fact is that if a person is hired as a public servant, for example, then it doesn't matter whether they're black, white, yellow, Christian, Muslim, Jew, gay, straight, tall, short, thin, fat or think that Al Gore really cares for the environment - they are all paid exactly the same amount. The same goes for the left's supposed bogeyman - big business - if you're employed in a bank or a stockbroker or at Hewlett-Packard or at General Motors then you're getting paid pretty much exactly the same regardless of your particular group. Is that how it works in the Middle East (Israel excepted)? In Africa? In South America?
- Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
- Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
- Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies
When the Soviet Empire collapsed, as I've pointed out before, the scale of environmental catastrophe shocked even the regime's most ardent critics. Free markets and private ownership have proven to be the most effective at protecting the environment because people have a financial incentive to ensure an ongoing supply of trees, for example, as distinct from the destruction of forests that takes place when governments pander to environmentalists and don't do enough clearing to ensure fires don't wreak massive damage, as happened in Canberra a few years ago.
What product is not more environmentally friendly now than twenty or thirty years ago? Cars certainly are. In order to match the massive fuel consumption of your average 1970 V8 you need to buy a dirty, great Hummer. Today's V8s are more efficient - and thus better for the environment - than most four cylinder cars were back then. This didn't happen through business consciously seeking to create more environmentally friendly cars but by competition to deliver cheaper to run products. Markets create efficiency, including environmental efficiency given a few decades to sort themselves out.
- Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
The major activities of the UN seem to be hand wringing while being 'concerned', 'deeply concerned' and 'gravely concerned'.
This list of ten principles, if enforced, would immiserise more people by undoing the positive effects of globalisation while at the same time negatively impacting the environment.