Global governance

ICC celebrates UN Charter and Bretton Woods Agreement Anniversaries

  • 22 July 2019

As the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) celebrates its 100th anniversary, the world business organization reflects on its participation in the signing of the UN Charter and Bretton Woods Conference.

Since its founding in 1919, ICC has been at the forefront of advancing peace and prosperity for all. In the aftermath of World War I, a group of industrialists, known as “the merchants of peace,” founded ICC to build stronger commercial relations between countries in order to promote peace and prosperity everywhere.

ICC's founders, known as "the Merchants of Peace".
ICC’s founders, known as “the merchants of peace.”

Over the past century, ICC has been at the table for many of the most consequential decisions that have come to define today’s multilateral global trade system. Most notably, representatives from ICC were present at the signing of the United Nations (UN) Charter at the San Francisco Conference in 1945.

To commemorate the 74th anniversary of the UN Charter, United Nations General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces invited General Assembly members, including ICC, to participate in a symbolic signing ceremony on 26 June, as an expression of renewed commitment to the Charter.

At the event, Isabel Franco Coimbra, Government Affairs Manager at ICC’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, reaffirmed ICC’s commitment to the founding principles of the UN Charter:

“The spirit of global cooperation embodied in the UN Charter is an indispensable foundation for a prosperous and peaceful world. That is why a firm belief in multilateralism has been the enduring constant of ICC’s 100-year history.

Isabel Franco Coimbra, ICC Government Affairs Manager
Isabel Franco Coimbra, ICC Government Affairs Manager.

In December 2016, ICC gained UN Permanent Observer status – a recognition of ICC’s longstanding commitment to enable business to be a force for peace, prosperity and opportunity for all, and solidifying the organization’s role as the only representative of the private sector at the General Assembly.

As the voice for business at the UN, ICC has mobilised global business leaders to support key priorities of the UN agenda, including the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society on digital governance and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

On the margins of the 2019 UN High Level Political Forum, ICC hosted the first-ever Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Lab, a new workshop series that allows corporate sustainability leaders to come together to tackle some of the most pressing social and economic issues of our time. Meanwhile, the Chambers Climate Coalition, a pledge committing chambers of commerce to advocate for climate action within our business networks, has received over 400 signatures from business and chambers leaders around the world

In preparation for the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter, Ms Franco Coimbra called upon all governments to support and invest in a strategic renewal of key international architectures to ensure that they can respond effectively to the realities and challenges of the 21st Century.

ICC is also celebrating its participation at the Bretton Woods Conference. 75 years ago, ICC joined leaders from around the world in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to create the framework for today’s multilateral international system.

ICC Secretary General John WH Denton AO at United Nations General Assembly.
ICC Secretary General John WH Denton AO at United Nations General Assembly.

The Bretton Woods Conference, helped pave the way for key rules-based organisations, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. The creation of a unified international monetary and financial order established better clarity and certainty for business around the world.

At Bretton Woods, ICC voiced the support of business for creating an international financial and monetary order in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

On the 75th anniversary of the Bretton Woods Conference, ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said:

“The Bretton Woods Conference was a defining moment that recognised the need for rules-based relations between countries to ensure a more stable international financial system. As an original participant at that conference, ICC continues to support many of the values embedded in the Bretton Woods system. We also believe we must channel the boldness demonstrated in 1944 to shape a global financial architecture fit for the 21st century.”

Mirroring the founding principles set out by the “Merchants of Peace,” ICC recently issued a declaration outlining ICC’s vision to continue to shape the future of global business for the next century.

Read more about ICC@100.