8th UN Annual Forum on Business & Human Rights

8th UN Annual Forum on Business & Human Rights

November 25-27, 2019

Geneva, Switzerland

This years UN Annual forum on Business and Human Rights will have the theme of: “Time to act: Governments as catalysts for business respect for human rights.”

The UN annual Forum on Business and Human Rights is the global platform for stock-taking and lesson-sharing on efforts to move the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights from paper to practice. As the world’s foremost gathering in this area, it provides a unique space for dialogue between governments, business, civil society, affected groups and international organizations on trends, challenges and good practices in preventing and addressing business-related human rights impacts. The first Forum was held in 2012. It attracts more than 2,000 experts, practitioners and leaders for three days of an action- and solution-oriented dialogue.

The Forum was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011  “to discuss trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles and promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights, including challenges faced in particular sectors, operational environments or in relation to specific rights or groups, as well as identifying good practices” (resolution 17/4, paragraph 12).

The Forum addresses all three pillars of the Guiding Principles:

  • The State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business, through appropriate policies, regulation and adjudication;
  • The corporate responsibility to respect human rights, which means to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts with which a business is involved; and
  • The need for access to effective remedy for rights-holders when abuse has occurred, through both judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms.

The Forum is guided and chaired by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and organized by its Secretariat at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Contact Daniella Goncalves for more information: dgoncalves@uscib.org.

BSR Conference 2019

BSR Conference 2019

November 12 – 14, 2019

San Jose, California

The annual BSR Conference is one of the longest-running and most well-regarded sustainability conferences, providing a space for thought-provoking conversations to identify solutions to the most complex global challenges. The Conference convenes more than 800 participants from around the world, including senior executives from Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and governments.

For more information contact Mia Lauter (mlauter@uscib.org).

United Nations High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development

United Nations High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development

September 26, 2019

New York, NY

The UN General Assembly will hold a high-level dialogue on financing for development (FfD) on September 26, 2019, the day after the meeting of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) under UNGA auspices. T

his date has been updated from September 23, per a letter circulated by the UNGA President on November 27, 2018.

The FfD meeting is mandated in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (para 132), which calls for it to convene back-to-back with the HLPF’s UNGA-level meeting every four years.

This meeting will also take place at the beginning of the UNGA session.

11th Annual Engaging Business Forum on Business and Human Rights

Engaging Business Forum on Business and Human Rights

September 12-13, 2019

Atlanta, Georgia

Hosted by The Coca-Cola Company

This year’s 11th annual Engaging Business Forum on Business and Human Rights will be held on September 12-13 in Atlanta at Coca-Cola’s headquarters. This event is organized by USCIB, the International Organization of Employers, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There is no fee to attend the forum; however, all participants must register here. Space will be limited, and registration is first-come, first-serve.

If you would like more information on this event please visit www.engagingbusiness.org or contact Daniella Goncalves (dgoncalves@uscib.org)

Remembering John Kloosterman, Labor Standards Expert

John Kloosterman (2nd from left) relaxed prior to the 2016 ILO conference with (L-R) then-USCIB International Labor Counsel Ed Potter, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, and USCIB Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee Chair Laura Chapman Rubbo (Disney).

USCIB members, staff and friends mourn the passing of John Kloosterman, a widely respected labor and employment lawyer who was an active member of USCIB’s Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee, and who served on many U.S. employer delegations to the International Labor Organization (ILO). John passed away tragically in a traffic accident on May 28, and will be greatly missed by USCIB and our members.

In particular, John’s contributions to the work of the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards, an important part of the ILO’s supervisory mechanism on which he served from 2012 to 2017, were recognized and appreciated by his peers in the global employer community.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to John’s family, especially his wife Jamie. The couple were serial adopters of large, lovable shelter dogs. In lieu of flowers or food, Jamie has asked that donations be made in John’s name to the San Francisco SPCA.

In 2018, John joined the Canadian law firm of Hicks Morley. Read more about his career and legacy in this tribute on the firm’s website.

In Peru, USCIB’s Goldberg Highlights Gender Inclusion

USCIB’s Ronnie Goldberg (center) at the UN Equal Pay International Coalition meeting in Lima, Peru

USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg participated in a meeting of the UN’s Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), May 28-29 in Lima, Peru. Launched by the UN General Assembly in 2017, EPIC aims to help stakeholders realize and achieve SDG Target 8.51: “By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.”

Specifically, EPIC is an initiative driven by stakeholders committed to reduce the gender pay gap and make equal pay for work of equal value a reality across all countries and sectors. Coordinated by a secretariat encompassing the ILO, UN Women and the OECD, the coalition engages governments, employers, workers and their organizations, the private sector, civil society and academia to take concrete steps to accelerate the closing of the gender pay gap and the achievement of pay equity.

At the Peru meeting, which was focused on “south-south” dialogue among developing countries, Goldberg spoke on behalf of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), part of USCIB’s global business network. She said that while the rights-based case for gender equality, women’s empowerment, and equal pay is clear, there is also a robust business case for gender equality.

“To speak in the language of business, the economic empowerment of women is a critical enabler of economic development and growth,” Goldberg stated. “Representing at least half of all human talent and potential and an enormous market of consumers, women are a valuable and strategic resource in developed and developing countries alike.”

Moreover, a growing body of evidence shows that companies that commit to and enable gender diversity are realizing clear bottom line benefits, not least through the attraction and retention of talented women, Goldberg said.

Companies can do – and are doing – a lot to foster gender diversity in their workplaces, according to Goldberg. Among the many lessons learned from the private sector’s experience:

  • Buy-in at the top is essential.
  • Pay equity is not a one-time fix. Constant attention is required, including annual benchmarking exercises.
  • Unconscious bias is an important issue. Some companies have instituted training programs designed to uncover and deal with such biases.
  • HR and hiring practices/policies need to be continually monitored.
  • Some companies are opening themselves to rigorous outside audit and certification.
  • Family-friendly and gender-blind policies on flexible work hours, maternity/paternity and sick leave benefit everyone, and extending them to all employees helps to reduce gender gaps.

Goldberg said the experience of employers indicated that gender pay gaps are not going to magically disappear, and eliminating them should not be viewed as a one-time fix. “Rather, they require specific interventions that will differ according to national circumstances, corporate cultures, available resources, and political will,” she said. “The good news is that the issue is now firmly in the public eye and an increasing number of companies are stepping up to meet the challenge.”

USCIB All In Initiative

USCIB All In

About

Faced with the urgent need to make faster and smarter progress towards achieving the ambitions of a range of international agreements including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Framework on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, inclusive multilateralism is essential. In this context, USCIB has developed a 2 year initiative: “Campaign All In.”

All In has launched a global conversation on how to strengthen dialogue, partnership and engagement with business to advance implementation of 2015 outcomes via the multilateral system. The Campaign brings together policymakers and global businesses in key UN cities to begin a conversation on opportunities for harnessing the power of all industry sectors to achieve the SDG goals and other sustainability initiatives.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks at the All In Roundtable

Campaign All In was launched during a roundtable event on May 8, 2019 in which USCIB partnered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to convene the first All In Roundtable on Inclusive Multilateralism, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Business. Further ‘All In’ roundtables are planned for Bangkok on June 11 and in New York in July. Together, the three roundtables will address six key themes:

  1. Enabling Public-Private Partnerships with the UN for the SDGs (Geneva)
  2. More than the sum of the parts: Leveraging public private cooperation in science and technology for the SDGs (Geneva)
  3. Using Value Chains to mobilize multi-sector engagement and synergy for the SDGs (Bangkok)
  4. Economic Empowerment and inclusion to catalyze SDG impact (Bangkok)
  5. Investing in Infrastructure in all its forms for the SDGs (NYC)
  6. Measuring and Mainstreaming Impact of Private Sector Engagement on SDGs (NYC)

Utilizing the outcomes from the 2019 discussions, All In will develop a 2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism.

Events

Geneva Week roundtable

Upcoming:

  • Bangkok Roundtable
    • When: June 11th, 2019 from 2:00 – 5:00 PM, followed by a reception
    • Where: UN ESCAP in Bangkok, Thailand
    • Registration: Available here
  • High Level Political Forum Roundtable
    • Details TBC
  • UN General Assembly Conference
    • Details TBC

Past:

*Events are based on invite only

 

ICC Celebrates 100 Years, Sets Out Vision for Next Century

L-R: Peter Robinson (USCIB), Norine Kennedy (USCIB), Thomas Pletscher (ICC Switzerland)

The International Chamber of Commerce, the oldest and largest component of USCIB’s global business network, celebrated its centennial at a gala event in Paris on May 28. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and Vice President Norine Kennedy were among the hundreds of attendees.

The world business organization was founded in 1919, out of the ashes of World War One, under a commitment by international business to build bridges through cross-border trade and investment and to serve as “merchants of peace.”

On behalf of its 45 million companies worldwide, ICC issued a declaration setting out a vision to shape the future of global business for the next century.

Mirroring the call by ICC’s founders, the declaration sets out guiding principles for ICC as a purpose-driven international organization, working with renewed purpose to “make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere.”

Listing a number of potential upheavals facing the global community – including climate change, digital transformations and rising inequality – the ICC declaration states: “In the years ahead, these disruptions will become increasingly pronounced in the absence of concerted action by global leaders to mitigate negative outcomes and drive collective solutions.”

Click here to read more and get the full declaration.

Ahead of ICC’s Centennial Summit, ICC launched a new work program to fulfill commitments set out in the Centenary Declaration. Leveraging ICC’s global membership in over 100 countries, ICC will execute the work program through five newly created and versatile knowledge hubs deploying five pivotal campaigns to enable business worldwide to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all.

“Faced with pressing global challenges in the 21st century, ICC and the global business community can – and must – do more as a force for good in the world,” said ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton. “We will respond to this imperative with brave and bold action to meet the ambition of our renewed purpose.”

US Business Launches ‘All In’ Initiative to Advance Business Engagement for Global Goals Implementation

Geneva Week roundtable

USCIB partnered with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to convene the first ‘All In’ Roundtable on Inclusive Multilateralism, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Business. USCIB’s ‘All In” Initiative seeks to launch a global conversation on how to strengthen dialogue, partnership and engagement with business to advance implementation of 2015 outcomes.

Over fifty participants from Geneva-based diplomatic missions, UN bodies, NGOs and business joined the event, including:

  • UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet
  • Charge d’Affaires, ad Interim, of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations Mark Cassayre
  • Secretary General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder
  • Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Mukhisa Kituyi
  • UK Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Julian Braithwaite
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks at the All In Roundtable

Expert panelists from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO),UNICEF, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UN Global Compact and the Partnering Initiative reflected on two themes that were raised in All In Discussion Starter papers:

Public Private Partnerships with the UN – Designing for SDG impact

Leveraging public private sector cooperation on technical and scientific knowledge for targeted SDG implementation

“The event highlighted the diverse variety of working arrangements to engage with non-state actors and the private sector,” said USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Environment and Energy Norine Kennedy. “Through the “All In” initiative USCIB will draw on its long experience in the multilateral system to highlight what has worked well and to flag areas where further partnership, improvement and strengthening are needed to speed up and scale SDG impact. “

Further ‘All In’ roundtables are planned for Bangkok and other UN cities, on additional themes, including metrics for impact, infrastructure investment for SDG action and economic empowerment and inclusion. Based on this series of discussions throughout 2019, ‘All In’ will develop a 2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism.

The ‘All In’ roundtable took place in conjunction with USCIB’s second annual Geneva Week, May 6-9.

USCIB Geneva Week Highlights US Business Priorities for Inclusive Multilateralism

USCIB Geneva Week delegation

A delegation of USCIB members joined USCIB’s second annual Geneva Week May 6 – 9 to highlight U.S. business priority issues, underscore USCIB’s continuing commitment to engage constructively in the multilateral system and advance U.S. innovation and partnership for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). USCIB also held its public launch of the ‘All In’ Initiative in Geneva on May 8, with a luncheon and roundtable discussion on inclusive multilateralism, SDGs and business.

USCIB Geneva Week provided an opportunity to discuss with diplomatic missions and UN entities enhanced access to intergovernmental organizations and to foster increased engagement between the public and private sectors. Geneva Week included meetings with representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as bilateral meetings with a range of national missions, including the United States, Brazil, Ethiopia and Japan. The USCIB delegation was welcomed by the Director General of World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (WIPO) Francis Gurry and took part in a series of thematic briefings and discussions with other WIPO officials.

USCIB’s Geneva Week delegation included representatives from AB InBev, Bayer, BIO, Cargill, The Coca-Cola Company, Ferrero, Mastercard, and PepsiCo. USCIB Vice Presidents Norine Kennedy and Mike Michener, Senior Director for Membership Alison Hoiem and Policy and Program Assistant Mia Lauter supported the group in meetings throughout the course of the week.

Members also joined a Geneva Business Dialogue at the World Trade Organization (WTO), hosted by theInternational Chamber of Commerce (ICC), ICC Switzerland and USCIB.  Joining a panel of speakers from the government of Switzerland and the EU Mission were private sector representatives from Nestle, Novartis and Ab InBev to highlight opportunities to create shared value using the SDGs as a framework.

Senior Vice President of Ferrero U.S.A. Gerald Kunde, who also chaired the delegation, was pleased with the outcome. “The USCIB team did an amazing job organizing and executing Geneva Week and the ‘All In’ Roundtable,” said Kunde. “Relationships are at the heart of our business. This year’s program advanced existing relationships, established new ones and greatly enhanced the private sector’s commitment to inclusive multilateralism.”

“Connecting members to key multilateral leaders and representatives of member states in important UN cities like Geneva is a fundamental part of USCIB’s policy work,” said Michener.  “We are very satisfied with the both the level and content of our engagement this week, and grateful to our members for their interest and active participation.”

USCIB will prepare a summary report of USCIB Geneva Week meetings for members and will begin to plan follow-up meetings for relevant committees with the Administration to consider next steps.