The Coca-Cola Company has joined the UN's Global Compact, a scheme seen as the world's "largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative".

Coke chairman and CEO Neville Isdell said yesterday (8 March) that the company's support for the programme was a "formal expression" of its "commitment" to guide its working practices to a range of issues that also include promoting human rights, labour standards and the environment.

"Our commitment applies to The Coca-Cola Company and all of the entities that it owns or in which it holds a majority interest," Isdell added yesterday (8 March)

Georg Kell, executive head of the Global Compact, said Coke's involvement was "an affirmation" of the initiative's importance around the world and in particular the US.

He pointed to Coke's involvement in a range of programmes around the world on issues including HIV/AIDS, water sanitation and minority empowerment.

Kell added: "Coca-Cola has an opportunity to build on its already impressive work and help contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive global economy."

Coke's move to join the Global Compact comes amid claims that the company was complicit in human rights abuses in Colombia, including the death of eight union leaders affiliated with its bottling operations in the country.

Coke has dismissed the claims and last week asked the UN to investigate the allegations, a move it hoped would "put the matter to rest".