An initiative to marshal businesses to promote the rule of law internationally will kick off in New York on Thursday night. Organizers expect to secure the United Nations’ backing for their project.

The Atlantic Council and LexisNexis Group are behind the effort, which they call the Global Rule of Law Business Principles.

Ian McDougall, executive vice president and general counsel for global legal business of LexisNexis, said that the absence of or lax enforcement of the rule of law costs the international business community billions of dollars annually. The problems range from intellectual property theft to inadequate contract enforcement. The launch of the program coincides with an event in New York on Thursday. 

"All around the world we held opinion-gathering input from business leaders and lawyers and the legal community," said McDougall. "Using that input, in conjunction with the Atlantic Council, we set up a bunch of draft principles which would be launched at the event itself. We are very pleased to be able to say that it will be taken on by the United Nations, and using their network we will get further input and come up with a finalized set and we will be asking for support from the global business community." 

The Atlantic Council helps to foster human rights and democratic values in the Trans-Atlantic community. LexisNexis is a legal and business information publishing company that helps distribute content for ALM Media LLC, which publishes The National Law Journal. 

"For businesses, rule of law is good business," said Frances Burwell, Atlantic Council vice president and director of the Program on Transatlantic Relations. "Do you as a company have redress through an independent judiciary that can adjudicate disputes? Without those things, it is impossible to have a functioning economy that is sustainable and prosperous."

Contact Matthew Huisman at mhuisman@alm.com.