‘The culture of social responsibility is a problem, and we are not aware of such concept in our Arab world’ says Abu-Ghazaleh, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Organization
BEIRUT——- October 4, 2011 —— The Arab Anti-Corruption Organization held a symposium on the role of the private sector in the path of sustainable development and good governance in Arab countries under the chairmanship of HE Dr. Salim Hoss, president of the Organization and a number of thought and opinion leaders in the Arab countries.
The event dealt with patterns of participation between public and private sectors, participatory and the structure of Arab regimes and the reform of public sector institutions, in addition to the distribution of responsibilities and tasks between the public and private sectors.
The symposium also raised the issue of social responsibility and corporate governance between the voluntary and legal obligation and the role of the private sector in the framework of the Convention of International Trade and the Euro-Mediterranean partnership agreement, in addition to case studies from Egypt, Kuwait, and Algeria.
HE Dr. Hoss delivered a speech stating that development cannot be sustainable if it was not derived from a creative dynamic system, which will be available only in the presence of the private sector
‘The private sector has a leading role in the course of development as well as in improving governance,” he said.
Dr. Amer Al Khayyat, secretary general of the Organization, stated “Our Organization’s theme choice of the symposium is an expression of our conviction concerning the importance of the role of the Arab private sector, its positive participation in social activity and its contribution to the revival of the country.”
In introducing HE Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Organization, Al-Khayat stated that Abu-Ghazaleh is the best in representing the private sector in the Organization. He also welcomed HE Dr. Salim Hoss and his support, his concern regarding the progress of the Organization.
Meanwhile, Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh in his key note speech entitled “Business and Society” said: ‘We must look at business organizations as part of the community, as they are one of its components, a partner and not opponent,” adding “Traditions describe the corporate responsibility by means of social responsibility for businesses, while it extends beyond that, but the focus is on companies as they became giant entities and perhaps more powerful than governments.”
He tackled the concept of social responsibility, saying: ” No matter how the legislations of laws can be fair as far as the taxes are concerned, social justice cannot be achieved; therefore the focus is on the economic dimension, and what we call capacity responsibility.”
“It is a controversial issue and has become one of the most important political philosophies, and when economic fundamentals started offering their ideas, including Adam Smith, who said, ‘The baker and the chef do not bake or cook for the people’s benefit or for charity work, but for his own advantage.’ Hence the philosophy of fundamentalism, which says that the real interest is that the company focuses only on profit because the owners of these companies are parties and involved in the community.”
He pointed out that the Communist movement, which began with Marxism although it was Western movement, did not spread in the West because it has defied this movement with the so-called free market, thereby rendering the biggest benefit to the community.
He also highlighted the experience of the Global Compact, where its first president was Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations.
“I was his deputy, and included ten main objectives all of which focused on serving the community. We received the support and endorsement from companies confirming their loyalty to this project, and committed themselves to certain standards. Each company was to report annually on its performance in the field of community service, but we found that there were gaps where these companies exploit the issue for the purpose of promotion, at the same time there was a big possibility for many to escape the real responsibility, because the moral dimension was not the governing standard.”
“I also had the opportunity to participate in the Global Alliance for ICT and Development of the United Nations, and the project was meant to discuss how to achieve sustainable development through information technology and communications, how to reach this goal. I had the honor to chair this organization. We also faced problems in this experience that whatever rules and regulations we put if they do not refer to the true ethic of the governing act they will be useless.”
Abu-Ghazaleh stressed on raising awareness in the culture social responsibility and said “It is a problem in our Arab world as a sense and a commitment. We still do not recognize the concept, not in our legislation or our culture. We teach in Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Graduate School of Business Administration the concept of social responsibility, as part of the culture that we must learn.”
He concluded by stating that corporates are legal entities, a group of people, and “we do not look to companies analytically, as seen by the West, and here we need some effort to explain the responsibility and its real role. At the end, we may be able to remember what Mother Teresa had said: “If we cannot love people whom we see, then how we can love God whom we have not seen” and in that lies wisdom.”
On the other hand, the Organization’s Board of Trustees held its annual meeting under the chairmanship of HE Dr. Salim Hoss and discussed a number of topics, including the annual report for the period ended August 31, 2011, financial statements, the financial report, approving the budget and the report of the auditor for the 2010 budget.