From the President: Making Sure the Business Voice Is Heard in International Agencies

The private sector needs to more fully engage with the UN and other international bodies; and those IGOs need to welcome business to the table.

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson
USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson

Around the world, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) – including, but not limited to, those in the United Nations system – play an important role in economic and social development. In so doing they exert substantial influence on national laws, policies and regulations. So how can business better engage with these bodies? This is something we think about a lot at USCIB.

We are privileged to be affiliated with the three main international business organizations – the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and BIAC, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD. Each of these groups plays an important role as the voice of business in leading IGOs. Over the years, this global network has provided unparalleled opportunities for American business to listen and learn, to advocate, and to impact the international agenda in such areas as trade policy, conditions for investment, the environment, human rights, and tax policy, to name but a few.

It goes without saying that business has an important stake in the work of IGOs. At the same time, IGOs have a stake in business as well. In today’s world, policy makers and regulatory authorities need to understand how global business operates, and how to maximize the private sector’s positive role in fostering economic growth, job creation, environmental sustainability and improved well-being. This means that IGOs must maintain a healthy dialogue with outside stakeholders, including the business community, which is the key source of investment, jobs, growth, innovation, and know-how around the world.

Catalyzing business input

We are pleased to see new opportunities opening up for business in some IGOs – particularly in the areas of environment and sustainability. In certain areas, IGOs are evolving to provide enhanced access and new entry points for business and other stakeholders. The private sector brings important resources, experience and technology to the table, and is thus indispensable in successful policy formulation and implementation.

At the same time – after a period of strengthened public-private partnership over the past couple of decades, and in the wake of the financial crisis – we sense that there are renewed questions about the role of business in some international institutions. In some cases, agencies appear to be reluctant to engage with specific industries or the business community more broadly. In addition, there are differing approaches to private-sector consultation from agency to agency.

Since USCIB’s founding in 1945 – not coincidentally, we were born the same year as the UN – we have served on the front lines as a champion of business, both through our global business network and in our own right.Today, we are actively working with our member companies to prioritize and engage with key IGOs, to take advantage of and inform the most important intergovernmental policy deliberations on priority issues for business where USCIB has experience, access and influence. We are also considering ways in which we can help foster a more consistent and mutually beneficial consultative process between business and IGOs.

A forward-looking agenda

Specifically, we are working to strengthen and work more effectively through our existing international channels, taking steps to support the work of ICC,IOE and BIAC in their work with key international agencies. In this way, we hope to ensure that IGOs can benefit from the unique contributions of the private sector in such areas as trade and investment, job creation, green growth, technological innovation and human rights.

Sometimes, it makes sense to identify and secure new channels for business input to IGOs, both to further support the work of our global network and to focus on key areas of interest for our members. In recent years,USCIB has participated directly in the UN Environment Program, the UN climate talks, APEC and other international bodies. This has given us new visibility and access in those organizations. We will pursue similar such opportunities in other IGOs where our members’ priority interests are at stake.

USCIB is working to improve outreach and coordination with the White House, the State Department and other key U.S. government agencies as well as the U.S. ambassadors and missions to key IGOs. We are also supporting American business engagement with the UN secretariat – in New York, Geneva and elsewhere, on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and a variety of other issues.

We are confident that this enhanced engagement strategy will help demonstrate the private sector’s interest in dialogue with IGOs, and will foster a positive attitude toward business in many international agencies. You can look forward to further reports from the front lines in the coming months,and we welcome your suggestions as to where and how we should be concentrating our efforts.

Mr. Robinson’s bio and contact information

Other recent postings from Mr. Robinson:

A Trade Policy Renaissance (Summer 2013)

The UN’s Development Agenda: Business Steps Up (Spring 2013)

A Network Like No Other (Winter 2012-2013)

Lessons From the G20 and Rio+20 Summits (Autumn 2012)

Staff Contact:   Peter Robinson

President and CEO
Tel: 212.703.5046

Peter Robinson is USCIB’s 15th president. USCIB, founded in 1945, is a policy advocacy and trade services organization dedicated to promoting open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence.
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