USCIB Calls on International Community to Fight for Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Individuals

June 1, 2022, New York, NY — On occasion of Pride Month this month, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) re-emphasizes its committment to fight for LGBTQI+ equality and inclusion throughout the year. As stated in Article 1 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” USCIB and its members are committed to treating all individuals with dignity, respect and equity and call on the international community to fight for the human rights of LGBTQI+ individuals around the world.

In her statement for Pride Month, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield pointed out that, “The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that deserves a global response. LGBTQI+ status or conduct is still criminalized in more than 70 countries or territories, and many individuals continue to face discrimination, harassment, and violence at work, at school and in public accommodations.”

According to the United Nations’ Global Campaign against Homophobia and Transphobia, more than a third of the world’s countries criminalize consensual, loving, same-sex relationships, entrenching prejudice and putting millions of people at risk of blackmail, arrest and imprisonment. In July 2013, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched UN Free & Equal – an unprecedented global UN public information campaign aimed at promoting equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTI people.

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development, and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Calls for Elimination of Child Labor, Calls on Governments to Invest in Rule of Law

June 12, 2022, New York, NY  — On this World Day Against Child Labor, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) joins the chorus of global voices calling for elimination of child labor. This issue is one of profound concern for the business community and we applaud the robust efforts of our corporate members to help tackle the scourge of child labor.

Many of our affiliates and partnerships work on combating child labor through their work in monitoring and developing best practices. The U.S. Department of State also monitors and reports on child labor in their annual Human Rights Report and Trafficking in Persons Report and contributes to the Department of Labor’s annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Similarly, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains identifies the worst forms of child labor as a serious human rights abuse associated with the extraction, transport or trade of minerals that companies should not tolerate, profit from, contribute to, assist with or facilitate in the course of doing business.

This year the International Labor Organization (ILO) hosted its 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor where delegates agreed that the Durban Call to Action include strong commitments on action against child labor while raising concerns that existing progress has slowed and is now threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflict, as well as food, environmental and humanitarian crises.

Despite universal ratification of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, there remains an unacceptable 152 million children in child labor, 72 million of which are in hazardous work. Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor, a quarter of the victims of modern slavery are children. One child is too many. Therefore, the private sector calls on governments to invest in rule of law and stands ready to partner with governments, academia, civil society and the public to reinvigorate efforts to achieve SDG Target 8.7 in order to end all forms of child labor by 2025.

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development, and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.

USCIB Members General Motors and Uber Receive Accolades from the Coalition for Integrity

The Coalition for Integrity (“C4I”), a top Washington-based group promoting integrity and combatting bribery and corruption, handed out its two major awards for 2022 at its annual session late May 19. Both awards went to USCIB members. General Motors won the prestigious Corporate Leadership Award, the eighth time in ten years that a USCIB member company has been selected, according to USCIB Senior Advisor Shaun Donnelly, a former U.S. Ambassador. GM and its CEO Mary Barra were singled out by C4I for its broad corporate culture of integrity, exemplified by its strong Code of Conduct and a mantra “Winning with Integrity.” GM Assistant General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Michael Ortwein accepted the award on behalf of the company and gave brief remarks, thanking the coalition and reaffirming GM’s commitment to integrity in all aspects of its business and at all levels. GM joins other USCIB members, including Bechtel, Raytheon, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and General Electric in winning the coveted C4I award.

The Coalition’s other major annual award is its Integrity Award to a prominent individual for her/his leadership efforts in combatting corruption and illicit practices. Previous winners have included former President Jimmy Carter, the late Senators John McCain and Richard Lugar, former World Bank President Jim Wolfensohn, and Dr. Anthony Fauci.  For 2022, C4I is honoring, Tony West for his career achievements promoting integrity and combatting corruption.  West is currently Chief Legal Officer for USCIB member Uber. He has previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, Associate Attorney General, which is the third highest position in the Department of Justice, and in the private sector as General Counsel at PepsiCo and in his current role at Uber. The Coalition cited West’s “leadership and efforts to promote accountability in the public and private sectors” in selecting him for this year’s Integrity Award. In 2015, when PepsiCo was honored with the Corporate Leadership Award, Tony West accepted the award on behalf of the company at the Coalition’s annual dinner in Washington. He thus becomes the first person to receive both the Coalition for Integrity’s Corporate Leadership Award and the individual Integrity Award.

Donnelly is a longtime member of the Coalition for Integrity’s Policy Advisory Board. Donnelly, who attended the C4I virtual awards ceremony, commended the Coalition for Integrity and the award winners for their leadership in combatting bribery and corruption and in promoting accountability, strong corporate governance and ethical behavior.

“It was great, again this year, to see outstanding USCIB member companies recognized for their leadership in this important area,” said Donnelly. “We as USCIB are proud of the high ethical standards our member companies set, implement and enforce, year in and year out.”

Lowry Testifies at Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force Hearing on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

The Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF), as required by the Uyghur Forced labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), held a public hearing on the Use of Forced Labor in the People’s Republic of China and Measures to Prevent the Importation of Goods Produced, Mined, or Manufactured, Wholly or in Part, with Forced Labor in the People’s Republic of China into the United States. On behalf of the FLETF, the hearing was led by the Department of Homeland Security, which also issued the Federal Register Notice requesting comments on UFLPA, and coordinated and moderated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Over 400 participants and sixty speakers joined from a wide array of groups, including, but not limited to U.S. trade associations (including USCIB), foreign trade associations, labor organizations, other governments, victims, private citizens and even faith-based groups.

USCIB Senior Vice President, Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry was among those speakers and provided testimony on behalf of USCIB members to highlight that, “Business is a committed, willing, and necessary partner in the global fight to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains.”

“We believe that application of the rebuttable presumption should be coordinated under a singular approach consistent with Section 307 enforcement,” added Lowry. “CBP’s current process for the detention or release of goods believed to be linked to forced labor is opaque and undermines the very concept of partnership that CBP has historically maintained with the Trade. It fails to effectively leverage businesses’ capacity to deter the offending behavior, as well as, long held and internationally accepted principles related to transparency, stakeholder engagement and remedy.”

Lowry encouraged the FLETF to adopt USCIB’s Withhold Release Order process proposal which would improve CBP’s enforcement process; enhance compliance consistent with the requirements of Section 307; increase transparency; encourage greater collaboration with the trade community; and expedite shipment clearance.

While there will be a transcript of the event made available, Lowry’s full testimony is available here.

USCIB continues to welcome the opportunity to work with the FLETF and CBP to effectively implement the UFLPA.

USCIB Supports “ITU International Girls in ICT Day” and Candidacy of Doreen Bogdan-Martin

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has developed an initiative aimed at realizing greater inclusion in the digital economy, bridging the gender digital divide and encouraging young women throughout the world to study and pursue careers based on STEM skills.

This year, the ITU’s International Girls in ICT Day will be celebrated on April 28.

According to Barbara Wanner, USCIB vice president for ICT Policy, this year’s theme will be “Access and Safety,” a selection based on consultations with girls and young women, who indicated that they need safe and reliable access to the Internet and digital tools to pursue their STEM career ambitions.

“It is USCIB’s hope that events such as this will help to broaden global support for the candidacy of Doreen Bogdan-Martin, currently Director of the ITU Development Bureau, for ITU Secretary General when elections are held at the ITU Plenipotentiary, September 26-October 14, 2022, in Bucharest, Romania,” said Wanner.

USCIB featured a discussion about the ITU’s efforts to bridge the gender digital divide and encourage more young women to pursue STEM careers as part of our workshop at the 2016 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) – “An Internet of Women by 2020: From WSIS Vision to Reality.  “Our expert speaker, in fact, was Ms. Bogdan-Martin,” added Wanner.

 

Herzog Contributes Business Insights at SHRM’s Workplace Policy conference

Gabriella Rigg Herzog at SHRM’s Workplace Policy Conference

USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog participated in the SHRM Workplace Policy Conference on March 28.  As a panel moderator, Herzog facilitated a session titled, “The Global Economy and the Workplace: How our Interconnected World Impacts Lives and Livelihoods,” which featured world-leading economists: Chief Economist of the Burning Glass Institute Gad Levanon, Daniel Rogger, economist at the World Bank as well as Vice President and Chief Economist of the Progressive Policy Institute Michael Mandel.

According to Herzog, with a focus on how the shifting global economy impacts businesses, workers and workplaces, the panelists highlighted important policy levers, such as well governed labor migration, business initiatives like skills-based hiring, apprenticeships, and training and upskilling opportunities for current employees as effective measures policy makers and businesses can take as we work towards an inclusive recovery.

SHRM’s Workplace Policy conference was held March 27-29 in Washington, DC

USCIB Congratulates the Newly Elected ILO Director General Gilbert Houngbo

Left to right: USCIB Senior Counsel and ILO Governing Body Member Tom Mackall shakes hands with ILO Director General Elect Gilbert Houngbo of Togo.

The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) warmly congratulates Gilbert Houngbo of Togo for his election as Director General of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Elected by the ILO’s Governing Body, made up of government, worker and employer members, Director General Elect Houngbo will be the eleventh Director General of the ILO and the first from the African continent.

USCIB Senior Counsel and ILO Governing Body Member Tom Mackall was present in Geneva to cast a vote on behalf of U.S. Employers during this important election.

This election comes at a critical time, and many of the workforce challenges that existed before the pandemic have come into sharper focus in the past two years.

Of this election, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson said, “Building forward together will require our best thinking on how to shape labor market regulations to drive growth and innovation, prepare current and future workers for coming industrial revolutions, and ensure inclusive opportunities for all in the future of work. Director General Elect Houngbo’s years of experience in leadership roles in international organizations, including the ILO, make him an exceptionally qualified candidate. USCIB and our Members look forward to the opportunity to work with Mr. Houngbo on these critical challenges.”

USCIB Policy Experts Participate in B20 Indonesia

Several USCIB policy experts are actively participating in B20 2022, the official global business dialogue with G20 nations.

Led by Indonesia this year, the B20 is comprised of seven task forces that develop consensus-based policy proposals outlining business priorities on key issue confronting the G20 nations in the year ahead. Senior Vice President for Innovation, Regulation, and Trade Brian Lowry and Policy and Program Associate for Sustainability Agnes Vinblad are on the Task Force for Integrity and Compliance, USCIB Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy is on the Task Force on Energy, Sustainability and Climate, USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog is on the Future of work and Education Task Force, USCIB Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner is on the Task Force on Digitalization, and Director for Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark is on the Trade and Investment Task Force.

“USCIB helps shape actionable policy recommendations provided through these task forces that will be shared with the G20 leaders when they meet in Indonesia in November,” said Lowry. “We at USCIB look forward to the advancement of business’ priorities to the G20 policymakers to help inform policies to advance a stable and inclusive post-pandemic economic recovery and supply chain resiliency, while grappling with the difficult national security issues confronting the world today.”

USCIB Provides Business Recommendations During ‘Our Common Agenda’ Consultation at UN Headquarters

Peter Robinson at the United Nations HQ in NY

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson was invited as a speaker for the fifth and final Informal Thematic Consultation on the United Nations report Our Common Agenda (OCA) on March 11 under the theme Enhancing International Cooperation. Representing USCIB, Robinson attended the consultation in person at the UN Headquarters in New York. 

In his remarks, Robinson referenced a quote by UN Secretary General António Guterres on how the international community currently is facing a momentous choice: will we “break through or break down?”  

“This question is even more urgent in light of recent disruptive events,” said Robinson. “Can the multilateral system survive these challenges? For business, the answer must be yes. Moreover, the private sector is part of the support structure needed to restore and strengthen the multilateral system and realize Our Common Agenda’s vision of more inclusive international cooperation.”

Robinson then went on to express gratitude to USCIB’s partners in the global business community, “When it comes to international cooperation, our focus here today, USCIB is privileged to be part of global leading business groups dedicated to working with the multilateral system – ICC, IOE and BIAC.” 

Highlighting business recommendations to the UN in taking forward the proposals set out in the OCA, Robinson advocated for the need to regard business and employers’ organizations as essential attributes of democratic and inclusive governance in both national and international settings and the critical need to crowd in and mainstream public-private sector partnerships.  

“Let me close with what might at first sound like a provocative statement: there can no longer be any conflict of interest between the private sector and the UN,” added Robinson. “Time and again, whether in response to the pandemic, or in unprecedented support for the Paris Agreement, or in humanitarian responses to help refugees, the private sector has leaned into international cooperation for our shared interests. Let us pursue the OCA’s opportunities through inclusive practical multilateralism, involving business, for the UN we want and need.” 

The President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Abdulla Shahid has convened five informal thematic consultations on the landmark UN report, Our Common Agenda (OCA), released by Guterres in September 2021. Through a five-part series of consultations, commencing with the first one in February 2022, Member States and other stakeholders, including the private sector, have been given the opportunity to discuss the proposals outlined in the OCA and their potential implementation in the Decade of Action.  

To find more information on Our Common Agenda, please visit this website.  

Ukraine Crisis: ICC’s Business Call to Action

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Secretary General John Denton released a letter on March 1 listing a number of organizations and campaigns on the ground in Ukraine providing humanitarian relief efforts. The situation is constantly evolving but many of the international organizations with whom ICC works closely are scaling operations to support the dramatically escalating humanitarian needs. ICC also worked with UNICEF to release a joint document outlining how companies can donate to critical services for children, speak up to raise awareness and act in ways that protect employees, suppliers and their families in Ukraine.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 

With a priority to assist those in need, ICRC teams in Ukraine are undertaking work to repair vital infrastructure, support health facilities with medicines and equipment, and improve the living conditions of more than 66,000 people whose homes have been damaged by heavy fighting. Together with its partners in the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – ICRC is calling for donations to raise over US$270 to save and protect lives.

  • DONATE NOW or check the ICRC website for the latest information.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) 

Speaking at a press briefing today at the Palais des Nations in Geneva UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo warnes that that the situation looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century. UNHCR is mobilising resources to respond as quickly and effectively as possible, stepping up operations and capacity in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Donations will support effort to ensure that Ukrainians forced to flee their homes are sheltered and safe.

  • DONATE NOW or check the ICRC website for the latest information

UNICEF 

With offices across Ukraine and surrounding UNICEF currently anticipates funding needs in excess of US$348 million for Ukraine, as well as the Refugee Response Plan across the wider region in order to support 7.5 million children with a wide range of services, including psychosocial support, immunization, healthcare, education, protection, water and sanitation, and emergency cash assistance.

  • DONATE NOW or check the UNICEF website for the latest information.

Crown Agents 

This non-profit international development organisation is a global leader in the humanitarian space and positioned to respond rapidly in the face of conflict. Working with its logistics partner Greenshields Cowie – skilled in delivering supplies, from new-born kits to tents, into some of the most challenging, remote and volatile regions in the world – Crown Agents is looking to ensure essential products reach the people who need them most.

 

ICC and UNICEF: What Can Business Do For Children and Their Families?

Download the Document Here

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine poses an immediate threat to the lives and well-being of the country’s 7.5 million children and is displacing a growing number of them from their homes. Children have been killed, wounded, uprooted and severely distressed by the escalating violence all around them. Hundreds of thousands of children and their families have been internally displaced and, to-date, over one million forced to flee the country in search of safety—the majority are women and children. Amongst those fleeing, many are unaccompanied children or have been separated from their parents or family members. As this crisis evolves, many more are expected to be displaced in the coming days and months.

Companies and business leaders can use their influence, reach and channels to promote messages to rally the business community.

ICC and UNICEF released a joint document outlining how companies can donate to critical services for children, speak up to raise awareness and act in ways that protect employees, suppliers and their families in Ukraine.