Remarks by Ambassador Rick Barton, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, at the Opening of the Global Compact's U.S. Network Seminar "Business and the MDGs"

Ambassador Rick Barton
U.S. Representative 
New York, NY
November 2, 2010


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of Ambassador Susan Rice, I would like to welcome the Global Compact’s United States Network to the United States Mission to the United Nations. Before we continue, I’d like to invite you all to visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. That’s @Ambassador Rice, “at Ambassador Rice” all one word. You’ll find it an excellent source to keep with United States policy developments at the United Nations. We look forward to today’s discussions and hope they help advance your efforts to strengthen corporate social responsibility around the world.

A few weeks ago President Obama spoke at the United Nations’ Summit for the Millennium Development Goals where he laid out the United States policy to revamp United States’ development assistance. He called for partnership from all corners, noting that foundations and the private sector and non-governmental organizations are making historic commitments that have redefined what’s possible.

Your gathering today embodies that collaboration. The United States Mission is pleased to assist the Global Compact’s goals to expand business advocacy of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption in their many operations.

Today you have an impressive program not only to hear from leaders in the field of corporate social responsibility, but to meet with each other, with Secretariat officials, and with members of foreign delegations to the United Nations throughout the day. Today’s activities should be seen as exemplary of the goodwill and partnership required to realize the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The value of partnership is exemplified by my colleague at the United States Mission, Ms. Carol Fulp. Every year the President selects two or three outstanding Americans to join the US Delegation to the General Assembly as Public Delegates, a tradition started by Eleanor Roosevelt early in the United Nations’ history. Carol is with us from September to the end of the year. She has taken a hiatus from her position as Senior Vice President of Brand Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for John Hancock Financial headquartered in Boston. In short order she has become a first-class diplomat, and she is a tremendous resource and colleague on the US Delegation. I encourage you to talk with her throughout the day and further explore the potential for partnership at the United Nations for advancing the Millennium Development Goals.

In the Charter of the United Nations, our countries pledged to work for “the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.” In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we recognized the inherent dignity and rights of every individual, including the right to a decent standard of living. And in 2000, at the Millennium Summit, we set concrete goals to free our fellow men, women and children from the injustice of extreme poverty.

To help fulfill these ambitious goals, the Secretary-General established the Office of the Global Compact ten years ago. Under the creative energies of its Executive Director Georg Kell that office has broadcast the message effectively and recruited over 6,000 corporations to advocate on behalf of the Millennium Development Goals. Georg is proof of what can be accomplished with the right person in the right job.

At the Millennium Development Goals summit, President Obama stated that “In our global economy, progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders, including my fellow Americans.” And he illustrated how progress has been made toward achieving certain Millennium Development Goals.

Yet he reminded us all that progress towards other goals that were set has not come nearly fast enough. In order for the international community to do better, he pledged that the United States would do its part. Hosting the United States Network of the Global Compact at the US Mission is one small step, a step which allows us to share with you our larger steps, and to learn from you as we walk together toward 2015.

The President announced America’s new US Global Development Policy, and how the United States was going to change the way we do business – by unleashing tranformational change and allowing more people to take control of their lives. And President Obama outlined a strategy that recognizes development not only as a moral imperative, but as a strategic and economic imperative.

Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business. And President Obama summarized it by stating that “the purpose of development - what’s needed most right now - is creating the conditions where assistance is no longer needed.” So, the United States is seeking partners who want to build their own capacity to provide for their people. We are seeking development that is sustainable.

At today’s seminar, many will be asking “what does business see as the emerging issues affecting the Millennium Development Goals?” We will also likely hear asked “how does business plan to harness technology to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?” Furthermore, and given emerging countries’ recent decision, such as that of China, to engage more substantively at the United Nations in topics on corporate social responsibility, how will your business plans evolve in those promising, growth economies?

These are the types of questions we hope are raised next May at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul. There we will assess progress made the last ten years in those countries, and we will we forge new measures and strategies for their sustainable development into the next decade.

These questions give all of us, government, business, and civil society, opportunities to forge a new division of labor for development in the 21st century. Together, we can realize the future that none of us can achieve alone. This can be our plan - not simply for meeting our Millennium Development Goals, but for exceeding them, and then sustaining them for generations to come.

Here at the United States Mission we appreciate the leadership your companies are taking within the UN Global Compact and what you are achieving as you build the practice of corporate social responsibility around the world. We also acknowledge the important role of non-business groups from civil society and academia with respect to partnering with companies. By hosting you today, we want to encourage you to build on your good work -- work that complements the U.S. Government's foreign policy and sustainable development objectives.

May you have an informative and productive seminar, and I look forward to more Global Compact activities going forward.

Thank you.


PRN: 2010/263