USCIB vice president Ariel Meyerstein attended a ceremony to mark the release of the U.S. National Action Plan (NAP) on Responsible Business Conduct last week in Washington DC. The ceremony demonstrated interagency support and coordination in completing the NAP and featured speakers from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of State.
“This is quite an achievement and we commend everyone who was involved in this complex process,” said Meyerstein. USCIB co-hosted the first public consultation on the NAP two years ago and has since advocated alongside its global partners and other major business organizations for the U.S. and other governments to develop these strategic planning tools to implement the State Duty to Protect under Pillar 1 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Meyerstein noted that, when done well, NAPs can help support businesses in implementing their responsibility to respect human rights in their own operations and those of their business partners.
At last month’s UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, USCIB joined several leading business associations active in business and human rights discussions to issue a statement on NAPs globally, urging Member States to complete their processes for creating NAPs, which less than ten Member States have done thus far (with several dozen remaining in various stages of completion). The statement also urged states to engage with the business community to learn from first-hand experiences in dealing with human rights impacts, particularly since companies have an increasing level of experience in implementing policies and practices.
“This first U.S. NAP lays a great foundation,” Meyerstein said, “particularly as it brings together in one place all of the initiatives in which the entire U.S. government has been engaged for years – and in many instances, leading global efforts, whether on government transparency and anti-corruption or forced labor, child labor and human trafficking.” Meyerstein added, “all of these areas are critical to the success of global companies who do business all over the world and therefore rely on the U.S. government to bring additional pressure to raise global standards and to ensure that other government actors do their fair share in protecting human rights and regulating what is ultimately anti-competitive misconduct by bad actors.”
If the U.S. government does not have a seat at the table in negotiating these standards or working towards their implementation, Meyerstein concluded, then “not only are there likely to be more human rights abuses, but U.S. companies will bear more of the costs in the long-run.”
The NAP is available here.