Povolny lecturer discusses role of United Nations

Chris Chan

The United Nations is an increasingly important force in the global environment. To illustrate that point, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Michael W. Doyle gave the Jan. 21 Povolny lecture entitled “The UN Global Compact: Developing Social Foundations for Globalization.” Doyle focused on the role of business in a globalized environment.”Globalization is neither good nor bad,” said Doyle. He illustrated his perceptions about the global compact the United Nations makes with the world, and the importance of social foundations for globalization. He expressed his belief that a network of a non-regulatory world structure consisting of world labor, international corporations, and government organizations would help create a partnership conducive to progress.

Doyle cited a popular analogy of globalizations being like a pool of water. When a person stands in waist-deep water, the person can stand lots of turbulence from the water’s surface. If a person stands in water coming up to the nose, then water turbulence becomes harder to survive. The analogy is similar to global markets. “You need political, economic, and social foundations to sustain market productivity,” said Doyle. “[Many countries] lack the stability and social mobility.”

The United Nations pays careful attention to growing businesses in developing countries, often acclaiming companies with positive impacts, but this is not without controversy. Critics accuse corporations of “blue-washing,” by which they allege that certain companies drape the blue flag of the United Nations in order to self-promote. Doyle is conscious of this abuse of United Nations management, and seeks to minimize the possibility of abuse of U.N. approval.

The United Nations does not have the power or control allotted to a national government. Doyle points out that the entirety of the U.N.’s power is generated from nation-states, and progress can only be formed if countries work as a team. “It’s like a sack race,” said Doyle, “We only win by moving together.