USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson was in Geneva the first week of November for high-level meetings of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), for which he serves as vice president for North America. While in the city, Robinson also met with senior officials at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, including Deputy Permanent Representative (and Charge d’Affaires in the absence of an Ambassador) Mark Cassayre. Tom Mackall, USCIB senior counsel and ILO Governing Body representative, accompanied Robinson.
Cassayre was only recently posted to Geneva, but already speaks with keen knowledge about areas of mutual interest, according to Robinson. Key senior staffers from the U.S. Mission also attended the meeting, including Howard Solomon, Bill Lehmberg and Phil Cummings.
“The meeting afforded us the opportunity to underline to the Mission USCIB’s unique positioning with regard to international institutions, and its role on behalf of U.S. business in global regulatory and standard-setting diplomacy, reflecting our parallel and mutually-supportive missions,” said Robinson.
A major issue of discussion was the emergence in recent years of allegations in some UN organizations of “conflict of interest” and “corporate capture” as an attempt to limit, if not exclude, business (industries, companies, and the organizations that represent their interest) from international discussions in areas ranging from health to climate change to labor protections. Robinson also noted The USCIB Foundation’s collaboration with a Geneva-based NGO, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), to develop principles for nutrition-related public private partnerships.
“The U.S. Mission seemed very supportive of an all-inclusive approach to today’s economic challenges, and we will look forward to working with them to help ensure preservation of that principle in international institutions,” noted Robinson.
Specific areas of discussion included current ILO debates within the Governing Body, the worrisome Ecuador-led efforts to secure a treaty on business and human rights, and approaches to other Geneva-based institutions including UNCTAD.
“We also highlighted USCIB’s longtime collaboration with the U.S. Missions in New York and Geneva, and our hope for a second USCIB member company delegation to Geneva, as we had undertaken this past spring with the help of the Mission,” said Robinson. “We ended the meeting feeling confident that this was a solid next step in constructive engagement with the U.S. Mission. On a personal note, I was delighted to learn that Mr. Cassayre, like me, had been an AFS exchange student, he to Lausanne, Switzerland, and I to Graz, Austria, and that both of us had maintained solid connections with those respective countries.”