As foreign minister, it is important to me to promote international challenges faced by the entire international community, because Israel is part of the global village.

Address by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni at the Inauguration of Israel’s Involvement in the United Nations Global Compact Program
July 16, 2008

A change has become evident among Israeli companies, which used to gauge their worth based on balance sheets and financial statements. There seems to be more and more understanding that a company’s success also depends upon its contribution to the society in which it operates. I would like first of all to make it clear, as a government minister, that the activities of companies in various realms does not absolve the government of responsibility; they remain our responsibility. But when it is possible to combine both of these interests, we can create a company, not just in the sense of a business company but also in the sense of a better society.

For me as foreign minister there is another interest here as well, which is integrating Israel in the international community. Israel is a less known quantity among nations, because of the tremendous gap between what we are and how we are perceived in the world.

It has been important to me as foreign minister to take actions related to Israel not just through the mirror of the conflict, and what we are launching here today and joining for the first time – an international agreement for a social and environmental commitment by businesses – has twofold importance for us. It is important firstly for Israeli companies, which are represented here, to be part of the agreement and of the global village we all share. Secondly is really to promote activities related to the challenges faced by the whole world.

The global village has many different meanings, certainly including economic and social meanings. As foreign minister, it is important to me to promote subjects that are not only related to Israel’s specific challenges, but also international challenges faced by the entire international community, because Israel is part of this village. Israel takes tremendous pride in its achievements and in having a great deal to contribute. We wish to contribute because we believe we can help improve the situation as well as change Israel’s image.

For the first time, a number of weeks ago, I met with the first Israeli female officer to be sent on a mission with the UN peacekeeping forces, which is also something Israel is doing for the first time. For the first time this year the United Nations also unanimously passed a resolution on completely technological matters, totally unrelated to the conflict. And now we are joining this compact, which already has over 4,000 member companies from 120 different countries. We are meeting the directors of businesses in Israel and representatives of the organizations, with the understanding that we do have a common mission.

Everyone here is already committed, but now they will engage in a more formal commitment on subjects of preserving civil and employee rights, protecting the environment and refraining from corrupt practices. Events such as this one are taking place throughout the world – the last two were in Dubai and Cairo; and this time we are doing it here. Hereafter the project will be taken over by the Maala organization, and I believe at this juncture we shall give them not only the floor, but also the reins for leading the process among the various Israeli companies.

The Foreign Ministry for its part will continue to be involved as well, to help wherever needed. From here on, our ability to advance matters is not just a one-time event but really through working together and exercising the common values shared by our businesses, our government, the United Nations, and this global village in which we all live.

Thank you very much.