“Business Can and Must Do More”


“Business Can and Must Do More”

The International Chamber of Commerce Rises to the Challenge

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) was founded in 1919, when the world was still recovering from the First World War. a group of industrialists, financiers, and traders came together with the shared conviction that trade was a powerful force for peace, and that fear and suspicion could be replaced with a new spirit of hope and cooperation. These self-styled “Merchants of Peace” had a vision for stronger business ties that bound nations together, offering the opportunity for shared prosperity as an alternative to war.


Working closely with policymakers through the principles of neutrality and independence, ICC has facilitated cross-border connections in the private sector and involves more than 45 million businesses today across 170 countries, including Armenia.

Celebrating 100 years of its establishment in 2019, ICC issued the Centenary Declaration, focusing on the key points of “the next century of global business.” Issues vital for sustainability and corporate social responsibility were an important part of this declaration.


Irina Pahlevanyan, Vice president of ICC Armenia Executive Board, Chair of Corporate Sustainability Commission

The Declaration stated: “We recognize that climate change is a growing emergency, and we wholly endorse the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the urgent need to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Through our global network, we will advocate for policy frameworks that support the alignment of business operations with this target and help us to reach the additional goal of net-zero emissions in many countries by 2050.”


ICC Global, getting ready for the upcoming World Chambers Congress event in Geneva, Switzerland 

But ICC leaders have long acknowledged that this is a systemic problem that requires collaboration across sectors. When asked in 2015 whether businesses were doing enough, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said, “Let’s be clear. Business will be essential in ensuring an effective response to the climate challenge. ICC members – companies of all shapes and sizes around the world – are already taking the lead in delivering and deploying powerful solutions that support the global climate agenda and the COP-21 negotiations. To be sure, business can and must do more. But to support this, we think it’s vital that the right policy frameworks are put in place, to create market opportunities, to help scale up the deployment of existing technologies, and to support the innovation needed to meet the climate challenge.”



                            Mr. Carel Hofstra, President of ICC Armenia Executive Board  

The Centenary Declaration also highlighted the need for “a more inclusive and responsible capitalism.” In terms of responsiveness to social issues, the International Chamber of Commerce has been active in the Private Sector for Refugees (PS4R) coalition launched in 2019. This initiative is a multistakeholder effort to bring closer humanitarian relief and development work on one hand, and commercially-driven business operations on the other. On World Refugee Day in 2021, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton said, “When given the chance, refugees and migrants can and have made immense contributions to the communities in which they live. Integrating refugees makes sense for business, and makes sense for society.” As part of this effort, the Refugee Investment Network was created, an impact investment and blended finance solution supporting the entrepreneurial efforts of refugees and providing them with a better future in their host communities. 


“Green TFP: Bringing Green Trade to Armenia” conference by ICC Armenia Banking & Finance Commission and EBRD

As part of its structure, the International Chamber of Commerce consists of several commissions, each focusing on a specific topic. The ICC Corporate Responsibility and Anti-Corruption Commission focuses on promoting ethical business practices and combating corruption in the global business community by creating awareness, providing guidance, and developing tools to assist companies in implementing effective anti-corruption measures and responsible business conduct. 

The Commission encourages businesses to adopt responsible practices that go beyond legal compliance. It promotes sustainability, social responsibility, human rights, and environmental stewardship, aiming to integrate these considerations into corporate strategies and operations with best practices, in order to help companies prevent and address corruption risks. The commission represents the private sector’s interests in discussions and initiatives related to corporate responsibility, sustainability, and anti-corruption. It engages with governments, international organizations, and civil society to advocate for effective policies and frameworks that support ethical business conduct. 



The commission enhances awareness and knowledge on corporate responsibility and anti-corruption through training programs, workshops, and other resources. These initiatives aim to build capacity within organizations and facilitate the adoption of best practices. The ICC has also published guidelines and tools to assist companies in implementing responsible and ethical business practices. These guidelines cover areas such as anti-corruption, integrity in business transactions, and responsible supply chain management. 

With the publishing of its standards of Conduct to Combat Extortion and Bribery in 1977, ICC was the first business organization to issue anti-corruption standards. Combating corruption, which is central to corporate responsibility and good corporate governance, is an ongoing process for the ICC. The 2011 edition of the ICC Rules for Combating Corruption presents a clear set of rules, corporate policies that can support compliance with these rules, and the elements of an efficient corporate compliance program.


Meeting with the Minister of Ecconomy


More recently, the ICC issued guidelines in 2022 on whistleblowing – another important mechanism for ethical and responsible business practices. The guidelines provide detailed support on the development of a Whistleblowing Management System and navigates the complexities of the contexts in which whistleblowing can occur. The guidelines state, “It should be recognized that submission of a confidential report via the Enterprise’s Whistleblowing channel is often seen as a last resort when employees do not feel encouraged to report their concerns directly to their manager. Therefore, Enterprises should clarify in their internal communication how to differentiate between ‘a report’ and the mere information about an issue that requires management attention and needs to be rectified in the normal course of business.” 


ICC Global Conference
On the right, John Denton, Secretary General, Next to him, Maria Fernanda Garza Merodio, Chair


In 2022, the ICC National Committee Armenia set out to establish a local commission on Corporate Sustainability with the goal of promoting the perception of sustainability and its application in the local business community by introducing global best practices and knowledge, and discussing legislative reforms in this sphere, developing mechanisms to advocate for and encourage the boost of sustainable practices. On one platform, the Commission brings together the top local experts in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ESG, CSR, and corporate governance, as well as stakeholders and the representatives from strategy-driven and socially responsible firms.

The growth of ICC’s activities in Armenia are a good sign for better connections between the business community in this country with the rest of the world. It is a powerful platform to bring support and change to the private sector in Armenia and to foster peace, prosperity, sustainability, and opportunity for all.


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