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"Your appointment is especially heartening in that it confirms that the issue of corporate responsibility, and the challenge of reconciling public priorities with private interests, are of central importance to society today."

-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a letter to John Ruggie

 

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July 2004 Director's Welcome

 
 

John G. Ruggie, CBG DirectorJuly 9, 2004

Dear CBG Faculty, Staff, Fellows, and Friends,

I apologize for this end-of-year letter being a bit late - and a bit long. There were so many things going on at the same time; I'm happy to be able share a few of them with you now.

Two very important speeches were given at the Harvard commencement on June 10, 2004. One, by President Larry Summers, addressed the growing body of evidence showing that income inequalities in the United States are reaching levels not seen in recent times, and that they have adverse consequences for the distribution of opportunities in our society. In response to this mounting challenge, President Summers announced a new initiative whereby students admitted to Harvard College from families with incomes below $40,000 will no longer be expected to contribute financially to their education here.

My former boss, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered the commencement address; Mary and I were honored to escort him and his wife, Nane, throughout the proceedings. In a speech that was interrupted by applause thirty-two times - including numerous standing ovations - Annan described three major challenges the world faces today. He termed the first a "crisis of collective security," and urged that all nations, including the United States, work together to adapt our collective instruments for the provision of peace and security to meet new needs, rather than trying to go it alone. He called the second a "crisis in global solidarity," referring to the growing gap between rich and poor countries; and the third a "crisis of prejudice and intolerance," or the growing divisions in the world based on religious and ethnic grounds, at a time when we need more than ever before to build on what unites us.

For those of you interested in reading more, please go to http://commencement.harvard.edu/

Throughout the spring, I was engaged in overseeing preparations for the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, held at UN headquarters on June 24. The Compact is an initiative of Secretary-General Annan to engage the corporate sector, labor and civil society in the promotion of UN principles and goals in the areas of human rights, decent work and environmental sustainability. It began modestly in 2000 with 50 companies, but has since become by far the world's largest corporate citizenship initiative with more than 1,600 participating firms. The Summit adopted an additional principle for the Compact, on anti-corruption. And among the many deliverables unveiled was an endorsement of the Compact by representatives of world stock exchanges, and a report stressing the importance of including social and environmental factors in making sustainable investment decisions that was presented by Goldman Sachs on behalf of some twenty investment banks -- entitled "Who Cares Wins." Further information is available at www.unglobalcompact.org.

At the beginning of May, our Asia Programs hosted its third annual Asia Public Policy Conference, focusing on "Social Policy and HIV/AIDS in China." Convened by Joan Kaufman, Director, AIDS Public Policy Workshop, Anthony Saich, Daewoo Professor of International Affairs, and Arthur Kleinman, University Professor, the three-day event brought together more than 70 participants from China, Europe, and the US to discuss the successes and limitations of China's current policy response to HIV/AIDS and identify areas requiring further research.

The Weil Program on Collaborative Governance held a workshop on May 13th on USAID's Global Development Alliance (GDA). The Alliance's director, Holly Wise, brought her senior staff to CBG for an intensive day of interaction with Weil Program faculty members including Jack Donahue, Richard Zeckhauser, Bob Behn, Suzanne Cooper, and Pepper Culpepper. An earlier workshop with senior officials from the New York City Parks Department led to a set of Weil Program teaching cases that have begun to enter the Kennedy School's curriculum, and prospects are good for the GDA workshop to follow the same model. The wide-ranging discussion of GDA's approach to engaging private players in development assistance will likely lead to further research and case studies on the lessons that can be learned from the GDA experience.

On May 18th, CBG hosted a symposium on "The Emerging Education Industry". The event, moderated by Jack Donahue, Raymond Vernon Lecturer in Public Policy, and Richard Light, Professor of Education, culminated in a presentation entitled "The Delicate Balance" by CBG senior fellow, Steven Wilson. The symposium helped to kick off a new fellowship at CBG, the Sandler Senior Fellows Program, funded by Michael Sandler, Chairman and Founder of Eduventures, an organization that supports the growth of private sector organizations operating in the corporate, postsecondary, and pre-K-12 learning markets.

The Corporate Governance Initiative took an in-depth look at "The Role of Government in Corporate Governance" on May 19-20. The workshop, led-off by a dinner discussion with John Thain, Chief Executive Officer of the New York Stock Exchange, focused on three areas: law enforcement strategies, the design of securities regulations, and government oversight of self-regulatory organizations. The event was led by faculty members Cary Coglianese and Elizabeth Keating, along with CBG senior fellows Michael L. Michael, Thomas Healey and Robert Steel, as well as former fellow Paul Hodge. Robert Steel also addressed the CBG Leadership Council on "Today's Financial Markets and Policy Challenges."

As always, there is more. But we try not to exhaust your patience. So I close now by wishing you all a good summer, and I look forward to being in touch again in the fall.


Cheers.

 John Ruggie signature

John G. Ruggie

Frank and Denie Weil Director, Center for Business and Government
Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs

 
 
 
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