UN Global Compact to Adopt “Global Rule of Law Business Principles”

LexisNexis® Legal & Professional—a Reed Elsevier business and a leading global provider of content and technology solutions— and the Atlantic Council formally presented the initial draft of the Global Rule of Law Business Principles to the United Nations Secretary-General at a special event Thursday night in NYC. The United Nations Global Compact will work to develop a truly global approach for how the business community can support the rule of law, using the work of LexisNexis and the Atlantic Council as an important foundation for this process. LexisNexis and the Atlantic Council will closely collaborate with the United Nations in the ongoing process.

“The Rule of Law Now: Building Business Leadership,” moderated by CNN Chief Domestic Affairs Correspondent Jessica Yellin, sought to spur a dialogue about the most pressing issues surrounding the rule of law that impact global business, law firms, NGOs, and other institutions. This special event featured the presentation of the inaugural “LexisNexis Rule of Law Awards,” bestowed upon worthy individuals from the business, non-profit, law, and academic arenas who, through their individual efforts and leadership, have elevated awareness surrounding the rule of law and enhanced its application around the world. Award recipients included: the UN Secretary-General; the Honorable Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights; and Laurel Bellows, the immediate past-president of the American Bar Association and principal of the Bellows Law Group, P.C., all of whom participated in a panel discussion about the topic following the Secretary-General’s remarks.

“LexisNexis has made the worldwide promotion of the rule of law its foundation as a business,” said Mike Walsh, CEO, LexisNexis Legal & Professional. “Advancing the rule of law is an imperative requirement in serving the greater social good. It also—and not incidentally—protects and supports the goals of global business. We are delighted to partner with the Atlantic Council to formally introduce the Global Rule of Law Business Principles, and are honored to have the support of the UN Secretary-General in taking this important effort forward.”

Why the Rule of Law is Good for Business

Research and common sense dictate that where the rule of law thrives there is improved social well-being, which leads to greater economic growth and prosperity. Conversely, the denial of this basic human right often comes coupled with widespread bribery, corruption, and worse.  From a global business perspective, companies cannot properly function in environments where legal norms are not guaranteed to be carried out with impartiality, fairness, or at all.

In its simplest sense the concept of the rule of law—as popularized by 18th century Irish statesman and political philosopher Edmund Burke—means “law should govern.” More formally, the rule of law is a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions, and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.

“The Atlantic community faces a shifting global landscape where the principles of democracy and human rights are not always made a priority,” said Frederick Kempe, Atlantic Council president and CEO. “Together with LexisNexis, the Atlantic Council looks forward to building a platform for the business world to engage in advancing the rule of law on a global scale.”

The philosophy behind the goals for the LexisNexis and Atlantic Council Global Rule of Law Business Principles is to provide businesses with a practical and useful guide for actions they can take toward advancing the rule of law; and to raise awareness of the impact that businesses can have in helping to promote the rule of law.

LexisNexis and the Atlantic Council undertook broad consultations and have developed six draft Global Rule of Law Business Principles that will initiate a global discussion.   You can read them in their entirety here:

  1. We will support fair process of legal redress, access to justice, and access to the law.
  2. We will support the sanctity of contracts and property rights, both for real property and intellectual property.
  3. We will implement fair and ethical business practices subject to local laws and customs.
  4. We will not engage in bribery or support corruption.
  5. We will encourage the protection of human rights.
  6. We will advocate on behalf of the Global Rule of Law Business Principles and track and report on our organization’s adherence to those Principles.

“While we know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for a challenge as manifold as worldwide adherence to the rule of law concept, we believe the Global Rule of Law Business Principles to be an incremental but vital step forward,” continued Mr. Walsh. “In our age of increasing globalization, banding together to advance the rule of law is a critical priority. The United Nations Global Compact is the ideal partner to take this forward and start a global consultative process with the business community, civil society and experts in the rule of law, within the framework of the United Nations.”