In short, the Global Compact is a set of principles modelled to a substantial extent of the Geneva Convention on human rights protection. More importantly, it is an attempt to create a new mode of global governance by bringing together MNCs into the human rights and global governance discourses. It poses as a partnership between states and MNCs, in which the Compact encourages good social, political and economic behaviours not only from the states, but from MNCs as well. The Compact serves as a contrast to the traditional realist attitude, in which the states serve as the centre of the global governance discourse. As we move to the contemporary era with more MNC involvement, global institutions like the UN are looking to cooperate with MNCs too. In other words, MNCs are now partnered with states to deal with global issues as they have risen to become important social, political and economic actors.
However, like many other attempts to instil corporate social responsibility in MNCs, the Global Compact is voluntary, meaning that it is non legally-binding. It is because the UN is not granted with any legal power to enforce and coerce law-binding behaviours on its member states. The world is an anarchical system, which makes monitoring efforts nearly impossible.
Due to the voluntary nature of the Global Compact, the realists think that it can be effective if only the signatory states want its principles to matter and make an effort to enforce them. According to the constructivists though, they think the Compact matters and can be effective because it can change how MNCs, and global citizens as a whole, the way they look at the world in the long haul. In other words, they argue that norms matter in international law. I agree that the Global Compact is hopeful in bringing a positive impact on corporate social responsibility because norms are subject to change, so there is much room for progress. Similarly, the way we look at security has changed: now it is fashionable to talk about human security, which differs from national security that focuses on states (we tended to talk like this as the realist model was dominant).
What is your take on the effectiveness and future of the Global Compact?