2017 USCIB International Leadership Award Dinner

USCIB is delighted to honor Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard. Each year this gala event attracts several hundred industry leaders, government officials and members of the diplomatic community to celebrate open markets and the recipient of USCIB’s highest honor.

Established in 1980, USCIB’s International Leadership Award is presented to a senior business executive who has made significant policy contributions to world trade and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. Join us for what will be a truly memorable evening!

2017 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

2017 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights (November 27-29, Geneva)

Registration: here.

USCIB is continuing its coordination strategy with USCIB members in advance of the Forum. Please contact Elizabeth Kim (ekim@uscib.org) if you are attending so we can be sure to include you in strategy sessions.

We would also like to draw your attention the new ‘UN Forum blog series’, which is meant to be an online platform for pre-Forum dialogue around the themes and topics of the 2017 Forum to share information about ongoing work in an accessible way. The UN Forum and Working Group Secretariat would like to encourage you to contribute to the blog- for more details about the focus and how to contribute, please see here.

 

Robinson Speaks on Private Sector Contribution to the SDGs

OECD Deputy Secretary General Mari Kiviniemi and USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

Over 40 business experts, including USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson, met with OECD governments and secretariat officials last week in Paris to discuss the role of the private sector in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). High-level speakers including OECD Development Assistance Committee Chair Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Deputy Secretary General Mari Kiviniemi and Robinson outlined the need for greater collaboration between public and private actors.

The meeting, which was organized in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) gave participants an opportunity to highlight what needs to improve for an enabling environment that can spur local business activity as a key mechanism for driving growth and development.

Best Practices and Challenges Facing Apprenticeships in New York

On October 10, 2017, USCIB gathered with the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), the New York City Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, and representatives from the hospitality industry, including Marriott, Hilton, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association, to discuss the future of apprenticeships in NYC. This informal meeting was a continuation of the July 20th Roundtable on Apprenticeships, where USCIB and GAN brought together the U.S. Department of Labor and over 20 industry representatives for a dialogue on current and potential apprenticeship programs throughout the U.S.

The most recent meeting served as an informative exchange of best practices and greatest challenges facing implementation of apprenticeships in New York City. The NYC Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development welcomed greater establishments of apprenticeships in the city, citing a recently published goal of establishing 100,000 good jobs in the city over the next 10 years, with each job generated through city action and paying $50,000 per year or more. Additionally, they emphasized their current work with local colleges for a greater focus on the work-based learning model that can better enable registered apprenticeships.

The hospitality industry discussed their significant work on apprenticeships, and how much progress has been made in the last several years, but also highlighted the challenges of working under different regulations for apprenticeships, state-by-state. Another identified challenge was working with regulations originally created for specific sectors; for example, NY State’s apprenticeship regulations were originally formulated for the construction industry, but – if modernized – could better enable apprenticeships in the IT, banking and hospitality industries as well.

For a full summary of the meeting, including key final messages and next steps, please click here.

USCIB Participates in UN Meeting on Proposed Human Rights Treaty

Gabriella Rigg Herzog speaks on behalf of Employers at Human Rights meeting in Geneva

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog  traveled to Geneva last week to represent Employers at the United Nations Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business entities with respect to human rights (IGWG). Chaired by Ecuador, the meeting followed two IGWG sessions in 2015 and 2016 which entailed general discussions on issues including the scope and applicability of a proposed binding instrument. This third meeting focused on a “Draft Elements” paper which was drafted by the Chair and served as a deliverable from the first two sessions.

As in previous sessions, business and key governments clearly stated their view that a treaty was unnecessary, and could risk distracting time and focus from the established global consensus surrounding the primacy of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) as the authoritative global framework that sets out the roles for governments and business on protecting and respecting human rights, and the need for greater access to justice for victims of alleged corporate-related human rights abuse. Additionally, business and key governments stressed that focusing solely on transnational corporations was not appropriate, and that any future instrument should cover all business entities, in particular, national companies.

Herzog made two interventions during the proceedings, focusing on legal liability and on international cooperation. On legal liability, Herzog underscored that “States have the primary duty to develop strong national institutions, as well as promulgate and effectively enforce domestic laws covering ALL companies within its borders, regardless of whether they participate in global supply chains or not.” Given that, Herzog emphasized the need to “avoid creating a two-tiered compliance system, whereby individuals, communities or workers that suffer business-related alleged harms involving TNCs have greater protections, but the rest get lesser or diluted protections and remediation.”

On international cooperation, Herzog highlighted the power of peer pressure, and existing UN mechanisms that could be leveraged by governments to encourage other governments to fulfil their State duty to protect human rights  – including through the development of National Action Plans in accordance with the UNGPs. “Peer pressure between States can be realized under the existing architecture by better harnessing the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process.” said Herzog. “We understand that States are starting to receive more recommendations from other States on the topic of business and human rights. This process could be used to encourage more “national action plans” (NAPs) on business and human rights that take note of the guidance prepared by the UN Working Group.”

According to Herzog, NAPs have not had as much attention in this third session because there is no explicit reference to them in the “elements” paper. “This is a pity,” she said in her intervention. “Taking aside the critique that some existing plans could have included more focus on the third pillar of the UN Guiding Principles, NAPs are a practical and useful tool.”

Herzog also emphasized in her comments that “international cooperation” is a broad topic that expands out beyond the specific discussions of this third session. The international business community is actively involved in a large number of initiatives on how to respond to social, labor and environmental challenges across the world, including the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Human rights are a central part, and the SDG agenda explicitly seeks to harness global partnerships and bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilize all available resources.

This third meeting concluded with some confusion over next steps, with the Chair expressing the position that its IGWG mandate would continue until a treaty was drafted and agreed. Other key parties, however, believe the Chair needs to seek a renewal of its 3-year mandate next summer from the Human Rights Council in order to proceed with a fourth meeting. USCIB will continue to monitor developments on this issue closely.

 

Consultation on the ILO Global Business Network on Forced Labor and Human Trafficking

The ILO is now seeking input on the Global Business Network on Forced Labour and Human Trafficking. The goals of the Network will include: knowledge sharing and identification of good practices among network members; the development of joint projects and services; strengthening business representative organizations to reach out to small and medium sized enterprises and linkages to wider national ILO projects and activities. The Network is an integral part of the ILO’s work in this area, enabling businesses to share knowledge among themselves but also influence policy makers. Participants will contribute to the design of the network as well as discuss ideas for its initial work plan. The event is for business constituents, and is invite-only. The event will be held under Chatham House Rules.

USCIB Travels to Geneva to Deliver Employers Statement on Human Rights

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs at the International Labor Conference earlier this year

USCIB’s Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog is attending this week’s Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business entities with respect to human rights (IGWG) in Geneva. This is the third meeting of the IGWG.

USCIB participated in each of the first two IGWG sessions in 2015 and 2016, which entailed general discussions on issues including the scope and applicability of a proposed binding instrument. On this point, business and key governments stated clearly their view that focusing solely on transnational corporations was not appropriate, and that any future instrument should cover all business entities – in particular national companies. The expectation was set that the third session would entail a discussion of proposed “elements” of what might get included in a binding instrument.

Just three weeks prior to this 3rd meeting, Ecuador released “draft elements” for a binding instrument. In response, Business at OECD, the International Organization of Employers (IOE), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Foreign Trade Association have produced a final joint business statement, found here. USCIB, as the U.S. affiliate of IOE, Business at OECD and the ICC, was able to provide substantive input. This statement was shared with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, other business groups abroad, governments and other stakeholders, and it serves as the basis of business’ interventions during the IGWG session this week.

Rigg Herzog will be part of the IOE delegation and will participate in a panel on corporate liability on Wednesday.

USCIB Applauds 20 Years of Anti-Bribery Convention

As the OECD celebrates 20 years of the Anti-bribery convention and 40 years of the FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) this year, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Business at OECD will host a conference on “No Turning Back: 40 Years of the FCPA and 20 Years of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention” on November 9th in New York. USCIB will be represented at this event by Eva Hampl, director for Investment, Trade and Financial Services.

USCIB, through its affiliation with Business at OECD, has been working with the OECD Working Group on Bribery, which monitors the implementation and enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Through annual consultations and USCIB’s advocacy efforts, the Working Group has taken up issues that are of interest to U.S. business in their future work plan.

The conference will draw upon expertise and examine the major impact of ground-breaking instruments and corporate behavior and law enforcement priorities. It will explore the role of cooperation between nations in investigating and persecuting foreign bribery and the effectiveness of different approaches to corporate responsibility for bribery. The event will be hosted by NYU School of Law’s Program on Corporate Law and Enforcement. U.S. businesses interested in anti-bribery issues may learn more about the conference and register here.

Prior to the NY event, Hampl will also speak on a panel in a similar event on November 8 in Washington DC and hosted by American University Washington College of Law. Hampl will speak on a panel titled, “Leveraging the Convention and Addressing the Corruption Challenges Ahead,” alongside representatives from the Department of Justice, OECD’s Anti-Corruption Division and Global Financial Integrity. Registration for the Washington event is available here.

Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations & Human Rights

Third Session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, October 23-27, Geneva

Location: Room XX of the Palais des Nations, Geneva

Registration: Only UN Member and Observer States, specialized agencies and other international organizations, national human rights institutions with “A status” accreditation, and NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status may attend and participate in the public meetings of the OEIGWG.

The first and second sessions of the OEIGWG were dedicated to conducting constructive deliberations on the content, scope, nature and form of a future international instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The Chairperson-Rapporteur of the OEIGWG is currently preparing elements for a draft legally binding instrument, taking into consideration the discussions held during the first two sessions. The third session of the working group will use these draft elements as a basis for substantive negotiations. USCIB’s Gabriella Herzog, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs, will attend the third session.

Shared Interests in the SDGs: Business Makes It Happen at UNGA72 USCIB Side Event

Left to Right: Kyra Kaszynski, Deloitte; Elliott Harris, UNEP New York Office; Chantal Line Carpentier, UNCTAD NY Office; Norine Kennedy, USCIB

USCIB held a side event on September 22 at the end of the UN General Assembly opening week for its members, government and UN representatives on “Shared Interests in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s): Business Makes It Happen,” hosted by USCIB member Pfizer.  The objective of this meeting, chaired by Novozymes CEO Peder Holk Nielsen, who also serves as USCIB board member and sustainability “champion,” was to explore the opportunities for improved transparency and cooperation in the United Nations that would scale up cooperation and partnership with U.S. business to deliver the SDG’s.

In his opening comments, Nielsen stated that the United Nations is part of the infrastructure that U.S. business depends on in commercial activity around the world, and looks to the U.S. government to work with U.S. companies for outcomes that reflect good governance and advance economic benefits both overseas and domestically. “Business understands the SDG imperative of ‘No one left behind’ to mean ‘everyone must get involved to make a difference, including business,’” he said.

Side event presenters, Diane McMahon of Bechtel and Kyra Kacszinski of Deloitte reviewed the findings of USCIB Expert Roundtables on Data Analytics for the SDG’s, and on Ingredients for Impact in SDG Public Private Partnerships (see other articles in this special edition newsletter for more information).

Norine Kennedy, who leads USCIB’s work on the SDG’s, discussed the pivotal role that the private sector has played in supporting UN sustainable development work, including the climate agreement and the SDG’s, and the recognized role that business has in the International Labor Organization (ILO) and in the Financing for Development process, among others.  These integrated inter-actions have created ambitious and widely accepted sustainable development initiatives that continue to move ahead with vigorous U.S. business support, as evidenced in the USCIB Businessfor2030 web platform.

These positive examples and UN reform proposals to embed the UN Agenda for 2030 across UN programs and priorities, and make UN discussions more inclusive and transparent to the public, including the private sector, are indications of willingness for transparent and constructive dialogue and action.  Kennedy suggested 3 steps towards enhanced business engagement as part of that reform:

  • Involve recognized business community organizations throughout UN deliberations to identify and assess issues, provide technical expertise, inform deliberations and serve as a resource for implementation
  • Favor multi-sectoral discussions, in combination with sectoral discussions
  • Pursue “shared interest” models that open doors to all business sectors to work transparently and constructively with the UN, based on good governance.

Discussants from UNCTAD, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs (DESA) added their views on how to help move ahead to tap business resources.  Elliott Harris of UNEP reminded the meeting about the differences in language, time frame and scale between public and private sector expectations and contributions.  While the United Nations sees a very big picture, the private sector focuses on direct and near term action.  He encouraged USCIB to seek ways to build bridges between those points of view as part of its ongoing work to enhance business involvement and contribution on the SDG’s.  Chantal Line Carpentier  of UNCTAD stated that if UN discussions don’t bring in private sector, it will be extremely difficult to frame the right policies and market actions.  Some fear the perception that UN development work is being “privatized,” and she encouraged USCIB to prioritize clear public-private partnership guidance that reflects the lead role of governments and IGO’s, in which business works to support and leverage resources for common benefit, rather than solely for private profit.

Thomas Gass, assistant secretary general of the DESA concluded the meeting with reflections about the challenges and opportunities ahead.  The SDGs are a declaration of interdependence, he said, that relies on the private sector along with other societal partners.  Gass warned against the SDG’s becoming an empty concept; U.S. business is critical to keep the SDGs moving through innovation and partnership.  He stated that sustainability has to be placed in national contexts, especially those of the least developed countries that cannot cope with negative ecological impacts of larger and wealthier nations, and welcomed USCIB’s focus on analyzing and framing data for analysis and prioritized SDG action as a key contribution in that regard.

USCIB will follow further SDG-related deliberations in this year’s UN General Assembly, working closely with the International Chamber of Commerce and International Organization of Employers, to advocate for transparent and inclusive business involvement.  Although the Business Makes It Happen side event marked the end of the UNGA high level sessions, USCIB regards its interactions and recommendations as a starting point to continue developing member ideas and action by a full range of U.S. business sectors to strengthen international cooperation on the SDGs as a platform to spread prosperity and opportunity around the world and in the U.S.

Please contact Norine Kennedy or Gabriella Herzog to find out more about USCIB’s positions on SDGs and the role of business in UN reform.