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UN General Assembly calls for new social contract

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) opened in New York this week with Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés saying, “The world needs a social contract based on shared responsibility, and the only forum that we have to achieve this global compact is the United Nations.”

The UN Global Compact Summit taking place alongside the UNGA brought unions, business leaders and investors together with heads of government to explore how to work together to build and invest in peace for all and advance the Global Goals (SDGs). It is calling on stakeholders everywhere, including business, to put people at the heart of sustainability strategies and practices – ensuring a future where no one is left behind.

The UN Global Compact was established by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000 with the first Leaders’ Summit held in 2004. Its membership is based on support for ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.

Speaking at the summit in New York, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “Today’s fractured world requires a new social contract – a commitment to ensure that full employment, rights and safety are respected by every business along with universal social protection, a minimum living wage and collective bargaining to guarantee wealth distribution with equality, the elimination of tax evasion and secure public services. And we cannot compromise on climate action with Just Transition measures for working people and their communities.

“The UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights with a mandated requirement for due diligence, grievance and remedy is essential to eliminate modern slavery and the oppression of the low-wage, precarious and unsafe work of today’s corporate supply chains.

“The SDGs are a pathway for social justice – a zero-poverty, zero-carbon world – but if we want to restore faith in democracy and create the enabling environment for peace and prosperity, economic models must have people, decent work and environment at the centre of development.”

Sharan Burrow and Philip Jennings, former General Secretary of UNI Global Union, are UN Global Compact Board members.

The ITUC represents 207 million members of 331 affiliates in 163 countries and territories.

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