|This paper critically assesses the United Nations-business partnership since the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. This study provides a critical overview of relevant theoretical approaches, buttressed by evidence from public-private partnership cases. Applying international relations (IR) theories permits qualitative research on, and future evaluation of, the partnership``s emergence. This study finds that while we see core elements of the rational choice perspective in the formation and implementation of the UN-business partnership, we see its legitimization via constructivist rhetoric- even for cases where the neo-Gramscian view is compelling. While traditional PPPs are often transnational, the mood articulated by the UN may have shifted goals for "private" parties, with firms`` motivations moving from a purely for-profit stance to one that embraces more social responsibility; goals also shifted for "public" parties, from state to interstate objectives, and from micro (infrastructure) to macro (shared development goals) objectives.