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15 Apr 2015

Gregory Regaignon, North America Researcher & Research Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Bringing rights home: Four reasons why the US must act to curb rights abuses by companies domestically, not just abroad

The US Government, led by the State Department, is preparing a National Action Plan on responsible business practice...a huge opportunity to address responsibility for companies’ impacts on society in a comprehensive way.  It could enable the government to build on its leadership on certain issues, through measures like requirements on responsible investing in Burma, Dodd-Frank Act provisions on conflict minerals and extractive industry revenue transparency... To date, the government has indicated that the plan will focus on US companies’ impacts abroad.  This focus is important... But focusing too narrowly on abuses “over there” suggests that there is no need to improve business conduct at home.  Sadly, this is far from true... None of this suggests that companies can’t be part of the solution to human rights concerns.  In fact, progress requires that companies take decisive action, as they have in a number of important cases... A National Action Plan that addresses impacts both in the US and abroad would go far toward fulfilling the US Government’s duty to protect human rights... If the government adopts a narrower plan that does not consider human rights impacts domestically, it will have missed an important opportunity that may not recur soon. [refers to Walmart, Wendy's, Kleiner Perkins, Facebook, Twitter]