Release of US National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

The US Government released its National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct on 16 December 2016 in Washington DC, at an event featuring representatives of the US Departments of Commerce, Labor, State, and Treasury, and the National Economic Council.  Video of the event is here.  A White House fact sheet summarising the plan, with an address to provide feedback, is here.  The NAP will be the subject of an event at the American University Washington College of Law, Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law on 12 January 2017.

For background on the US National Action Plan, see the US Government's FAQ page, and this dedicated page by Intl. Corporate Accountability Roundtable on the NAP process, including stakeholder submissions.  For further information on National Action Plans globally, see here.

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27 November 2017

U.S. Government efforts to advance business and human rights in 2017

Author: U.S. Department of State

The U.S. government is committed to supporting and advancing respect for human rights among businesses, and has continued to take steps toward this objective in 2017... [including the following, among others:]

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1 March 2017

USA: Intl. Corporate Accountability Roundtable releases assessment of Natl. Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

Author: Intl. Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR)

"ICAR releases assessment of U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct", Mar 2017

The following assessment reveals that while the U.S. NAP presents a thorough overview of existing federal policies and government expectations around the conduct of U.S. companies abroad, there are a number of shortcomings in relation to both the drafting process and the strength of the content of the NAP. The plan fails to adequately address many of the concerns raised by civil society and labor organizations during the consultation process. Additionally, it falls short of providing bold new actions to address the challenges posed by business activity on human rights and prioritizes addressing business conduct occurring abroad over domestic business practices.

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29 January 2017

New US plan for responsible business conduct takes steps towards digital rights, says NGO

Author: AccessNow, Peter Micek

Last month the U.S. government published its first National Action Plan (NAP) on responsible business conduct (RBC). The U.S. had agreed to do so in 2014, and the resulting document addresses a broad range of issues, including human rights, labor rights, land and property rights, anti-corruption and transparency, and information and communications technologies (ICTs). We welcome this effort to address human rights in the ICT sector, given that most NAPs don’t touch on digital issues at all. It’s critically important, since U.S. companies reap huge profits by collecting data on people throughout the world, yet they remain largely unaccountable and out of reach, both to users and global data protection regulators. However, this NAP doesn’t go far enough in identifying specific human rights issues, and it falls short of the recommendations we made in our submission in the consultation process for the plan. Specifically, we’re disappointed that the U.S. doesn’t make any specific commitments to digital security, surveillance technology, or diversity and openness in the ICT sector. Below, we take a look at the context for the NAP; what we advise for improving it; related issues for the ICT sector; what other countries are doing; responses from civil society; and the road ahead under the Trump administration...

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21 December 2016

"US Plan on Responsible Business Conduct is too little, too late" - Human Rights Watch

Author: Komala Ramachandra, Human Rights Watch (USA)

The US Secretary of State released the first US National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct last Friday, outlining how the US government intends to take on human rights and business. While it represents an important step in recognizing the human rights impacts of businesses, the modest plan largely restates the status quo and does not offer any new measures to prevent and address violations...

While the plan has constructive elements, it provides few commitments that will lead to stronger or enforceable standards to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses. Nor does it address a major question: How will the Trump administration approach these issues? The likely role and influence of business interests on the incoming administration, exemplified by the nomination of Exxon’s Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, has created fears that they could overturn years of progress on business and human rights issues. 

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19 December 2016

Can the new US National Action Plan encourage responsible business under Trump?

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

The new US National Action Plan is a welcome step toward corporate accountability, even if it could be stronger. The key now is real implementation by the next administration... [Much] of the National Action Plan reflects existing federal policies and guidance... Yet dismissing this plan as insufficiently bold, inadequately focused on domestic issues, and too narrow in the human rights concerns that it addresses, would be a mistake.  It does include many commitments to promote voluntary good practice...but it also commits the government to accountability measures.  These measures, for example, exclude companies that do not exercise human rights due diligence from Federal procurement...

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16 December 2016

Obama’s Parting Words on Responsible Business Conduct: A Challenge to the Incoming Administration

Author: Intl. Corporate Accountability Roundtable (USA)

ICAR calls on the incoming Trump Administration to extend upon the precedents established in the National Action Plan and on all stakeholders to work together to build upon the commitments made by the Obama Administration. The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) welcomes the release of the U.S. National Action Plan... The release of the National Action Plan comes during a time of growing concern over corporate influence on government... “The National Action Plan creates a starting point from which to address responsible business conduct...,” said Amol Mehra, Director of ICAR. 

“Yet, the National Action Plan fails to adequately address many of the concerns raised by civil society and labor organizations. Much remains to be done to ensure that U.S. corporations are not committing or linked to human rights abuses both at home and abroad,” Mehra said... [He added,] “We call on President-elect Trump to implement the laws and policies contained in the National Action Plan in a steadfast and non-partisan way, and call on all stakeholders to work together to deepen and extend responsible business conduct as a norm rather than an exception beyond the National Action Plan.”

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16 December 2016

Responsible Business Conduct: First National Action Plan for the United States of America

Author: US Government

This NAP is designed to reinforce and strengthen the U.S. government’s role in advancing RBC through effective intra-governmental coordination and policymaking, promoting high standards globally, facilitating current and future RBC efforts through enhanced collaboration, and highlighting and supporting U.S. industry leadership... 

This NAP is organized into five categories of action:

  1. Leading by Example
  2. Collaborating with Stakeholders
  3. Facilitating RBC by Companies
  4. Recognizing Positive Performance
  5. Providing Access to Remedy

Each category contains descriptions of the U.S. government’s ongoing and future commitments and initiatives to further RBC.

[full text (PDF)]

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