Message of Kofi A. Annan (UN) to the Founding Congress of the ITUC

This is a historic day for the global labour movement. You have chosen to come together and face the challenges of globalization as a single, new, united trade union body, the International Trade Union Confederation. The United Nations warmly welcomes this decision. We now have one clear counterpart on social, economic and development issues as they relate to the world of work.

I have long emphasized the growing importance of civil society to the United Nations, and recommended last year that the General Assembly establish mechanisms to engage more fully with civil society organizations. Trade unions have constantly been among our most important civil society partners, with both the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the World Confederation of Labour holding consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The United Nations values the support you have shown for the underlying principles of the Organization, and for its norm-setting role in the areas of peace, security, development and the promotion of human and labour rights. Following the adoption of the Millennium Declaration in 2000, you have supported our work to fight poverty and reach the Millennium Development Goals — including as a founder of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, and through your active participation in the work of the Millennium Campaign. And you play a key role in giving effect to the pledge in last year’s World Summit Outcome Document to enable developing countries to participate more effectively in, and benefit from, the process of globalization — including by generating employment.

We in the United Nations have relied on your support for our efforts to engage with the business sector, so that companies abide by the ten principles of the Global Compact. The Global Compact is now the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative, and labour is one of its key stakeholders, at the global and the local level.

On all of these fronts, the United Nations looks forward to ever closer cooperation with the new International Trade Union Confederation. Given the importance we attach to policy coherence at all institutional levels, we are confident that our partnership will grow even stronger with the creation of this new body. In that spirit, I wish you all a most productive founding congress.

Kofi A. Annan

See also: Address by Mr. Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Office to the Founding Congress of the
International Trade Union Confederation