Guiding Principle 10
States, when acting as members of multilateral institutions that deal with business-related issues, should:
(a) Seek to ensure that those institutions neither restrain the ability of their member States to meet their duty to protect nor hinder business enterprises from respecting human rights;
(b) Encourage those institutions, within their respective mandates and capacities, to promote business respect for human rights and, where requested, to help States meet their duty to protect against human rights abuse by business enterprises, including through technical assistance, capacity-building and awareness-raising;
(c) Draw on these Guiding Principles to promote shared understanding and advance international cooperation in the management of business and human rights challenges.
Greater policy coherence is also needed at the international level, including where States participate in multilateral institutions that deal with businessrelated
issues, such as international trade and financial institutions. States retain their international human rights law obligations when they participate in such institutions.
Capacity-building and awareness-raising through such institutions can play a vital role in helping all States to fulfil their duty to protect, including by enabling the sharing of information about challenges and best practices, thus promoting more consistent approaches.
Collective action through multilateral institutions can help States level the playing field with regard to business respect for human rights, but it should do so by raising the performance of laggards. Cooperation between States, multilateral institutions and other stakeholders can also play an important role.
These Guiding Principles provide a common reference point in this regard, and could serve as a useful basis for building a cumulative positive effect that takes into account the respective roles and responsibilities of all relevant stakeholders.
What National Action Plans say on Guiding Principle 10
In the context of Action point 9, Renforcer la collaboration entre les services publics et diverses organisations actives dans le domaine des droits de l’Homme et de l’entrepreneuriat international [Strengthen collaboration between public services and the various organizations active in the field of human rights and of international entrepreneurship], the NAP states that various public services, in particular the MFA and the OECD NCP, have information on the human rights situation in different countries, due to their activities (this is the case of for the NCP); the local presence of Belgian representation; contacts with local civil society (especially human rights defenders), other “external” partners sensible to human rights issues (such as the delegations of the European Union and its Member States, the local offices of the United Nations and their specialized bodies, the Council of Europe, etc.) or with representatives of like-minded countries.
The Belgian federal, Flanders and Wallonia governments will aim at gathering inputs at federal and regional levels from various stakeholders, which have information on human rights and how Belgian enterprises can avoid becoming complicit, directly or indirectly, in human rights violations. The analysis that emerges from this exercise will be transferred to the embassies and the competent services in Brussels, who will be able to rely on this input to provide more information to companies in the framework of their regular contacts with them. The NCP may, if appropriate, use the analysis to take initiatives to mitigate identified risks.
Action point 16, Promouvoir les rapports sociétaux, droits de l’Homme inclus [Promote social reporting, including human rights] is the main action point covering the issue of non-financial reporting. Belgium’s actions will include insistence within the European Commission on support measures, for large enterprises that are obliged to publish reports on this issue, as well as for small and medium-sized enterprises and other organizations that wish to do so on a voluntary basis.
Action point 17, Plaider au niveau de la Belgique pour le renforcement de l’intégration du développement durable (y compris des droits de l’Homme) dans les accords de libre échange [Advocate for strengthening the integration of sustainable development (including human rights) in free trade agreements] mentions that “trade must have a positive impact on work and environment.”
The federal government states that during negotiations at the European level, Belgium will advocate for the respect and inclusion of fundamental labour rights and international environmental standards – including in cases of development cooperation – in investment agreements and free trade agreements. “Any new trade or investment agreement must not have negative impact on sustainable development.”
- Flanders mentions its support of the EU’s efforts to include separate chapters covering sustainable development, in which the environment, labour (including dignity in work) and transparency (including consultation with civil society) in free trade and investment agreements. Flanders aims to continue its advocacy for the inclusion of clauses promoting socially responsible entrepreneurship, including compliance and enforcements mechanisms, into these chapters.
In Action point 19, Promouvoir les bonnes pratiques des PME qui adoptent une gestion de la chaine d’approvisionnement responsable, notamment grâce à l’outil « CSR Compass » [Promote best practice of SMEs that adopt responsible supply chain management, especially through the « CSR Compass » tool], the NAP presents the CSR Compass and explains that some companies could also engage in “strategic partnerships” with NGOs and recognized foundations on particular projects. The European Multi-Stakeholder Forum echoed these practices, stressing that partnerships with NGOs are a key to success in implementing practices of socially responsible multinational firms in the Global South.
Action point 24, Accorder une attention particulière à la question des droits de l’enfant dans la sensibilisation des entreprises [Pay special attention to the issue of children’s rights in awareness raising of enterprises], is specifically targeting the issue of children’s rights. According to the Belgian federal government, “the area of children’s rights have not been enshrined in the UNGPs to the extent they find necessary to address businesses responsibility to respect human rights.” Belgium wants “to give special attention to this particular issue in its NAP by engaging through several parallel measures, including systematic reference in international fora and bilaterally to concerned States on the ratification of Conventions Nos. 138 (on minimum age) and 182 (on the worst forms of child labor) of the ILO. Also, the NAP plans an active support and awareness raising of companies on the principles governing enterprises in the field of children’s rights, in order to allow Belgian companies to maximize the positive effects of their activities on the lives of children by supporting and respecting their rights and those of their parents or guardians, including the right to a decent wage.
Action point 25, Accorder une attention particulière à la ratification, au soutien et à la promotion d’une série de conventions de l’OIT ayant trait aux droits de la femme [Pay particular attention to the ratification, support and promotion of a series of ILO conventions relating to the rights of women] is the main action point covering the issue of women’s rights. Among main actions is the systematic reference in international and bilateral fora to ratification by concerned parties of the Equal Remuneration Convention No. 100 and Discrimination Convention No. 111 of the ILO, as well as emphasis on women’s rights in awareness-raising through the network of Belgian diplomacy.
Action point 27, Sensibiliser les entreprises belges à la problématique de la corruption et renforcement des engagements belges sur cette thématique [Educate Belgian companies on the problem of corruption and strengthen Belgian commitments on this theme] is the main action point covering corruption. In the framework of the NAP, engagements will include systematic reference in international and bilateral fora of Belgium’s ratification of the international anti-corruption conventions; follow-up and presence at the working groups of international organizations on anti-corruption issues and development of best practice; and awareness-raising of Belgian companies on the problem of corruption (NCP, Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Justice, with the Confederation of Belgian Enterprises and the International Chamber of Commerce on the prevention of corruption in companies).
Pillar I. The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
Strand 7: Strengthening of International Political Coherence [pages 47-48]
While this process generated recommendations about coherence between policies at a national level, there were also recommendations identified about the importance of strengthening the coherence that must in Chile’s position about business and human rights, both at international fora and regarding the signature of economic and other international agreements.
7.1 The Ministry of the Environment is currently involved in negotiations of the Regional Instrument about Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration about access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters, where it will take into consideration the business and human rights framework as relevant.
7.2. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will:
o Through the Directorate of Human Rights:
- Submit a report with recommendations to the National Council for Sustainable Development about the link between the Guiding Principles and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Create and coordinate a board aimed at generating material for the annual meetings held by the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights. The board will meet periodically with the purpose of generating proposals within the framework of this process, which will partially consist in carrying consultations with the civil society to gather material and draft a proposal concerning this matter.
- Continue promoting the treatment and development of business and human rights in different regional and global fora such as, inter alia, the Pacific Alliance, the Organisation of American States (OAS), CELAC, UNASUR and Mercosur.
7.3 The Unit for International Affairs of the Ministry of Labour will:
o Promote the Guiding Principles, which build on ILO Conventions on Human and Labour Rights, in different multilateral cooperation scenarios it takes part in.
The Colombian NAP does not contain a reference to the GP10.
The Czech NAP does not contain a reference to GP10.
2. State Duty to Protect
2.3 Actions Taken
Companies that receive substantial support and services from State agencies [pages 13-15]
Since 2007 Denmark has worked actively in the OECD to ensure that export credit agencies have a common approach for evaluating human and labour rights as well as the protection of the environment (GP 10).
Promoting transparency through the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47
The Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 is a government led initiative formed by the governments of Brazil, Denmark, France and South Africa in June 2012 following the acknowledgement of the importance of corporate sustainability reporting in Paragraph 47 of the outcome document of the 2012 United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20). Since then several governments have joined the group. The Group issued their Charter on 7 November 2012, declaring their shared belief that corporate transparency and accountability are key elements
of a well-functioning market economy, that substantially enhances the private sector’s contribution to sustainable development, and that governments have a primary role to play in this agenda. This agenda includes all aspects of CSR, including human rights. The group is supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in a Secretariat capacity.
Promoting shared understanding and international cooperation on UNGPs
Denmark participated actively in the 2011 revision of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. A main focus of the Danish efforts was to ensure that the revision of the OECD guidelines was made in accordance with the UNGPs.
The Danish Government is highly committed to the UN Global Compact and works for even closer cooperation between the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Danida has provided financial support to the UN Global Compact for a number of years and has also provided support to John Ruggie’s work on developing the UNGPs as well as support to the UN Working Group’s work in promoting the implementation of the principles in practice. Denmark continues to work actively to ensure consistency between the different policies in the OECD including in the area of export credits. Denmark also works to ensure that the future EU policy in the field of CSR and human
rights is based on UNGPs. At EU level, Denmark is an active player in the EU-Commission’s high level group on CSR.
At the multilateral level, Denmark actively works to promote and strengthen the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles. In May 2012, as part of the Danish EU Presidency, the Danish Government organised an international conference on the UN Guiding Principles to increase the awareness among both EU member states and companies on the implementation of the UNGPs (GP 10). Moreover, Denmark participates in the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights held in Geneva, focusing on trends and challenges in relation to the effective implementation of the UN Guiding Principles.
Direct extraterritorial legislation and enforcement includes criminal regimes that allow for prosecutions based on the nationality of the perpetrator no matter where the offence occurs. The Danish Government wishes to engage in the discussion on extraterritorial legislation as proclaimed in the UNGPs and as recommended by the Danish Council for CSR. Acknowledging the complexity of the issue, the Government has taken the following initiatives:
– At international level the Danish Government actively promotes the discussion on extraterritorial legislation, in particular the need for joint solutions. The Government has recommended that the Council of Europe should take the lead on the issue of extraterritoriality. The Council of Europe would be an excellent point of departure for this discussion as it covers virtually the entire European continent and focuses on the protection of human rights. Furthermore the Council of Europe is already working on these issues through its Steering Committee for Human Rights.
– The Government has recommended that the second annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights could focus on the issues of extra-territoriality as this is a challenge for every country to implement.
Appendix 1. Overview of the implementation of the state duty to protect
Status in Denmark (initiatives implemented before the UN ratification of the Guiding Principles) [page 32]
- The government works to promote human rights bilaterally and multilaterally. This work is described in the Danish 2009 human right strategy “International human rights work”.
- The government works actively in bilateral and multilateral institutions such as the UN and the EU to strengthen the observance and respect for human rights.
- The government supports that the post-2015 development agenda is firmly anchored in human rights and universally accepted values and principles, including those encapsulated in the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Millennium Declaration. Further, Denmark has been instrumental in the establishment of the World Bank’s Nordic Trust Fund which aims to promote the application of the human rights framework in World Bank policies and operations. Denmark has also been active in promoting that The International Finance Cooperation (IFC) actively supports its clients in addressing human rights risks and impacts. Furthermore, human rights are reflected in trade agreements.
GP 10 continued-
Encourage those institutions, within their respective mandates and capacities, to promote business respect for human rights and, where requested, to help States meet their duty to protect against human rights abuse by business enterprises, including through technical assistance, capacity-building and awareness-raising;
Status in Denmark (initiatives implemented before the UN ratification of the Guiding Principles)
- The government contributes actively to the promotion and dissemination of CSR in the UN and the EU through cooperation with donors. CSR is an important element in the donor Declaration “Bilateral Donors’ Statement in Support of Private Sector Partnerships for Development”, which was presented by the Danish Prime Minister at the UN Summit in September 2010;
- Denmark’s participation in ILO cooperation contributes to the promotion of decent work for all. The focus is on the need to prioritise the relationship between employment, social security, labor standards and social dialogue in the ILO’s work, and the promotion of decent work in other international contexts.
Initiatives taken or planned as a dedicated measure to implement the UNGPs (after the UN ratification of the Guiding Principles)
– The Government has pro-actively supported the European Commission’s proposal for an EU Directive as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information. The Danish government finds that the expected European regulation is a timely opportunity for Europe and European;
– companies to further strengthening reporting practices with regard to human rights. In addition, it sends an important signal globally that while transparency is important in itself, a leveling playing field is needed.
GP 10 continued [page 33]
Draw on these Guiding Principles to promote shared understanding and advance international cooperation in the management of business and human rights challenges.
Initiatives taken or planned as a dedicated measure to implement the UNGPs (after the UN ratification of the Guiding Principles)
- To raise awareness about the new UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, both among companies and the general public, the Governement has organised an international conference on human rights 7–8 May 2012 in connection with the Danish EU Presidency.
- Denmark participated actively in the 2011 revision of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. A main focus of the Danish efforts was to ensure that the revision of the OECD Guidelines was made in accordance with the UNGPs.
- Denmark continues to work actively to ensure consistency between the different policies in the OECD including in the area of export credits. Denmark also works to ensure that the future EU policy in the field of CSR and human rights is based on UNGPs.
Government covering note on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights National Action Plan [page 5]
Promotion of human rights at the centre of Finnish policies
In addition to the above-mentioned, Finland will actively promote human rights and the implementation and strengthening of human rights norms, at both the national and international level. The working group report offers a comprehensive description of the channels and means employed.
1. The state obligation to protect human rights
1.2 Activities in international organisations [page 14]
Finland promotes the realisation of human rights and greater awareness of human rights as part of business activities by influencing the operations of the international organisations of which Finland is member or those activities Finland otherwise supports or funds. As for human rights questions related to business activities, the key operators include the human rights bodies of intergovernmental organisations (such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Council of Europe, and international and regional convention control bodies and tribunals), organisations related to trade, funding and investment, and working life (such as international financial institutions for development, e.g. the World Bank and regional development banks), dsdthe special UN organisations and programmes (UNIDO, UNDP, UNCTAD), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Labour organisation (ILO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Many other international organisations also have activities relevant to this theme, which Finland may use for promoting human rights.
Generally, Finland supports the mutual dialogue between international organisations and their cooperation on human rights issues to increase coherence. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has used development cooperation funds to finance actions related to features such as rights at work, the economic empowerment of women, and decent work.
The efforts for the implementation and development of the UN principles will continue within the intergovernmental organisations in whose work Finland is involved. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has commissioned a report4 dealing with the improvement of legal protection for victims of human rights violations related to business activities.
It has been suggested within the UN Human Rights Council that a convention on the human rights liabilities of companies be made between governments, but Finland has not recommended this. In international human rights bodies, Finland has emphasized development related to due diligence.
As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that
- Finland support the observance and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights approved by the UN Human Rights Council and participate in a discussion on further developing the norms. Finland shall participate in the UN Business and Human Rights forums and support the work of the working group related to the UN principles.
- Depending on the situation, Finland utilizes the universal periodic review (UPR) of the human rights situation in the UN Human Rights Council states. In this review, questions may be asked and recommendations on the implementation of the guiding principles may be given to the states examined.
- Finland shall bring forward questions related to human rights in international trade and development organisations and direct its support to programs related to business and human rights as part of Finland’s support to international trade and development organisations.
- Finland supports the cooperation and discussion with the WTO and other essential international organisations such as ILO or WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation), carried out within the framework of the WTO Coherence Mandate.
- Finland participates and actively influences the work related to human rights and CSR questions that is carried out in the OECD, for instance, by being involved in drafting and updating guidelines, templates and recommendations related to the subject. Finland shall support and participate in the update of the OECD Policy Framework for Investment.
- Finland participates in the development of UN’s cooperation with business and supports features such as the Global Compact CSR initiative.
- Finland shall be actively involved in the Council of Europe working group for business activities and human rights and shall continue to influence its activities based on human rights in order to create non-binding European instruments.
- Finland shall report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the implementation of the recommendation by the Committee on Business. In addition, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 16 on State obligations regarding the impact of the business sector on children’s rights shall be translated into Finnish and Swedish, and a summarised introduction to its contents shall be made for distribution to entities such as companies.
- Finland will continue the dialogue related to the human rights impacts of business activities with the UN bodies for indigenous peoples and ensure that the effects of business activities on the realisation of the rights of indigenous peoples will be brought forward in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in autumn 2014.
- Finland regards the human rights foundation (provisions on human rights and human rights principles) as a starting point for all development goals, also in the UN post-2015 development agenda. The goals shall also apply to national and private business activities to the extent to which businesses are involved in reaching the goals.
- Finland supports and more strategically uses the systems and work previously carried out in ILO and shall be involved in their further development. Principal responsible parties: Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Employment and the Economy, continuous activities.”
1. The state obligation to protect human rights
1. 3 Activities in the EU [page 16]
Promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility
In 2011, the European Commission published a communication on corporate social responsibility (CSR) describing work related to CSR within the EU. In its communication, the Commission expressed the wish that the member states prepare national implementation plans for the UN principles. The guiding effect of the Commission communication is rather limited, but it is supported by the Commission’s high-level CSR group, which is an important forum for the exchange of information and experiences among the member states. Finland is actively involved in the group’s work.
4. Access of victims of human rights violations to legal remedies [page 31]
“As a follow-up measure, the working group proposes that
- Finland participate in the discussion on developing legal remedies carried out in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council.
- Finland support non-governmental organisations, which follow human rights issues related to business activities and support the victims of human rights violations.
Principal responsible party: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, continuous activities.
I. The State Obligation to Protect Human Rights
The International Framework [pages 12-15]
France also chairs the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 of the Rio+20 Declaration. This group promotes sustainable development reporting to better ensure that economic actors respect social, environmental, good governance and human rights standards. This group successfully advocated for reporting to be reinforced and extended to all SDGs.
International Labour Organization
France is one of ILO’s more active members and has a permanent seat on the organisation’s Governing Body. It adheres to and promotes the Decent Work Agenda, and fully supports the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (the MNE Declaration). The country has signed a four-year partnership agreement with the International Labour Office, which involves implementing CSR initiatives and contributing to the Better Work Programme.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
France finances actions supporting the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. It is also very active in the working group developing a guide for the textile industry, following the recommendations of its NCP in this field.
International Organisation for Standarization (ISO)
France actively contributed to work completed by ISO which resulted in the adoption of the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility for businesses and organisations. This standard seeks to promote a common understanding of social responsibility, but cannot be used for certification. The ISO 26000 standard deals with seven core subjects, one of which is human rights.
The European Framework
France supported the adoption of a resolution on human rights and business in 2010. In early 2013, the Committee of Ministers recommended that a political declaration supporting the UN Guiding Principles be drafted by the end of 2015 along with a non-binding instrument incorporating good practices to bridge gaps in the implementation of the Guiding Principles in Europe.
France has played an important role in ensuring that these issues are high on the European agenda, particularly with respect to the adoption of the European directive on binding non-financial reporting, which France actively supported during negotiations.5 It also promoted the inclusion of social, environmental and governance standards in trade and investment agreements (see section 8 below). It helped to ensure that the conclusions of the Council of the EU under the Dutch Presidency were adopted, supporting the enforcement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and their integration into development policy
Proposal for Action No.1 [page 16]
- France is participating in work carried out by the UN intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, which has been mandated to elaborate an international legally binding instrument, subject to the integration of parameters defined with our European Union partners, in order to ensure that the process respects the unanimity and integrity of the UN Guiding Principles (applicability to all businesses, consultation with businesses and integration of UN Guiding Principles).
- Working with the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 of the Rio+20 Declaration, France supports the reinforcement of reporting requirements in the environmental, social and governance fields, especially with respect to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted on 25 September 2015.
- France encourages States to ratify and apply ILO conventions, especially fundamental conventions, by making full use of the supervisory system.
- France seeks to ensure that the issues of decent work, occupational health and safety and supply chains are addressed by the G20, particularly by working with Germany, whose presidency runs from 2016 to 2017. It also seeks to build on the G7’s commitments to the UN Guiding Principles in 2015, as well as commitments made during the International Labour Conference in June 2016, one of the three themes of which was “decent work in global supply chains”.
- France actively contributes to OECD activities in the field of responsible business conduct, particularly its work on due diligence (in the textile and finance sectors) and reinforcing the OECD Guidelines to mark their 40th anniversary (from June 2016 onwards). – France supports the implementation of the ICESCR, in particular in the economic and technical fields, through national efforts and international assistance and cooperation.
- Actions to be implemented
- Work to enhance cooperation between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and ILO to better integrate international social standards on responsible production processes and methods (for example, targeting child labour and forced labour), in order to promote a level playing field that takes into account existing frameworks and regulations.
Proposals for Action No. 2 [page 17]
- France has made human rights a requirement in non-financial reporting following the transposition of European Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups.
2. Challenges in corporate practice [page 29]
In the framework of the German presidency of the G7 in 2015, the Federal Government was a driving force behind the successful proposal to include a chapter on responsible supply chains in the Leaders’ Declaration. In that chapter, the private sector is being urged to exercise due diligence with regard to human rights. Together with the Heads of State or Government of the other G7 nations, the Federal Chancellor declared the Government’s support for the promotion of sustainability standards in global supply chains, including decent working conditions. To this end, the G7 are to:
- support efforts to set up substantive national action plans for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles, • increase transparency within supply chains,
- promote instruments for the identification and prevention of risks, • strengthen grievance mechanisms,
- encourage best practices • and, in particular, assist small and medium-sized enterprises in developing a common understanding of due diligence and responsible supply-chain management.
- The Federal Government will continue to promote the Vision Zero Fund, which was initiated on the basis of a G7 decision. The Fund is to be administered by the International Labour Organization and will serve to prevent and reduce work-related deaths and serious work-related accidents in global supply chains.
Annex 1 – list of additional and ongoing actions to be carried out across government
EU and Multilateral Efforts [pages 20-21]
- Promote business and human rights issues in global policy processes within the framework of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, in particular through sustainable development goals 8, 1 and 5.
- Continue to participate in the Kimberley Process Certification scheme and support the scheme’s stewardship by the European Commission.
- Support the implementation of the Regulation establishing an EU-wide system for supply chain due diligence of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. Continue to take account of the human rights elements of European Commission impact assessments when providing input in the course of Free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and support the appropriate implementation of human rights clauses in FTAs as they arise in EU agreements. Participate actively in the united Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights.
- Share information about challenges and good practices on business and human rights with partners in the EU and the UN, including promoting coherence in the implementation of the EU’s action Plan on Human Rights and democracy (2015-2019) and EU’s gender Action Plan (2016-2020).
- Use the universal Periodic Review to encourage states to implement the UN guiding Principles and to report on their progress.
II. Background and Context
C. National Priorities [page 7]
The following priorities will be subject to regular review and update by the Business and Human Rights Steering Group (see par.V):
- Strengthening the role of Italy in human rights – based international development cooperation.
IV. Government responses
Current Activities and Future Commitments [page 25]
C. Operational Principles
Ensuring policy coherence
Guiding Principle 10
Italy considers it a priority to promote implementation of existing international tools on human rights in the business sector, also in line with the 2030 Agenda, within multilateral institutions and with regard to the negotiation of international treaties and agreements. States and relevant actors should adopt policies and mobilize resources to advance equitable, human rights-based and sustainable development. Italy acknowledges the link between human rights, sustainable development, and fair business competition and is aware that the lack of respect for human rights is a potential factor of distortion on international markets.
Italy acknowledges the link between human rights and fair competition and will endeavour at the international, bilateral and multilateral level to identify effective solutions to enhance the protection of human rights.
- Engage with other States for the establishment of a mechanism of peer review for the existing National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights (in line with EU Council resolution encouraging peer learning on BHR);
- Support initiatives in all relevant fora aiming at developing instruments to enhance fair competition for the safeguard and promotion of human rights;
- Advocate for a system of ‘human rights credits’ in international trade through the proposal of introduction of a ‘special duty’ for goods imported from countries and/or produced by enterprises not complying with human rights fundamental standards;
- Continue supporting activities of the UN Global Compact;
- Promote further and wider recourse to due diligence processes and foster exchanges of experiences with partner countries at EU and global level, and with international organizations such as the OECD, ILO, IOM and UNICEF;
- Actively support EU engagement and initiatives of member countries to strengthen responsible management of supply chains and improve labour conditions in line with the G7 “Action for Fair Production” commitment;
Contribute through the exchange with governments and social partners on best practices and approaches to the general discussion on “Decent work in global supply chain” started in the framework of the 105th session of the 2016 International Labour Conference.”
II. Objectives and Measures
E. Measures related to international obligations [page 4]
1 Membership in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and The aim is to intensify and expand Lithuania’s participation in the activities of the institutions of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and, through the implementation of the organization’s measures, to exercise active lobbying for the membership in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (hereinafter referred to as the OECD).
3. Results of the consultations and government response
Level playing field [page 14]
“(…) The Netherlands believes that the OECD has an important role to play in reaching agreements on a level playing field. In order to contribute to a level playing field and to give the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises more authority, the government has appointed a special representative. For the next four years, this official will chair the working group on CSR, and lead the OECD Guidelines Proactive Agenda.
Promoting a level playing field is one of the government’s main tasks in relation to ICSR, and the Netherlands works through the multilateral institutions to achieve this aim. In multilateral forums such as the EU, OECD, ILO and UN, the Netherlands consistently calls for attention to the UN Guiding Principles, and urges member states to adopt them as the guiding principles of their policy. The Netherlands is also committed to universal ratification of the ILO’s fundamental labour standards: the ban on child labour and forced labour, equality of opportunity and treatment, and freedom of association. The ILO’s eight fundamental and four priority conventions support the system of universal labour standards and are crucial for a level playing field.
3. 2 Policy Coherence
International forums [page 18]
The government regards the UN Guiding Principles as an integral part of its foreign and human rights policy. The government can play a role in sector and multi-stakeholder initiatives by forging direct links with government authorities in other countries and by raising issues in multilateral forums and through the embassies. The government is committed to keeping CSR and human rights on the European agenda. In the run-up to the EU Presidency in the first six months of 2016, the Netherlands will consult with like-minded member states on Europe’s commitment to achieving a level playing field and to increasing the effectiveness of multi-stakeholder initiatives. Among the subjects the government will focus on the need for collaboration to achieve ICSR, with a view to greater social impact, the creation of a level playing field for business and implementation of the UN Guiding Principles. The Netherlands and a group of like-minded countries will play a pioneering role with the aim of getting the other EU member states on board.
As a shareholder in the international financial institutions, the Netherlands calls for more systematic attention for human rights and effective internal monitoring mechanisms to safeguard observance of human rights in projects. It is, for example, urging more systematic attention for human rights in the review and update of the World Bank safeguard policies. The Netherlands is also helping to promote human rights through programmes of multilateral institutions. The ILO’s Better Work programme is a good example.
Trade and investment agreements [page 20]
The government is committed to including clear provisions on the relationship between trade, investment and sustainability in trade and investment agreements. Within the EU, the Netherlands urges the inclusion in these agreements of a section on trade and sustainable development, with monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. The aim is for parties to reaffirm their commitment to fulfilling their ILO obligations to eliminate child labour and forced labour and to working together to this end. Agreements also need to be made on cooperating on and promoting CSR, through the OECD Guidelines, for instance. For the Netherlands, involvement of civil society organisations is an essential component of any agreement.
The EU’s aim is for every trade agreement to be linked to a broader partnership and cooperation agreement reaffirming states’ human rights obligations. Where human rights are abused, the trade agreement could ultimately be suspended.”
3.3 Clarifying Due Diligence
ICSR in relation to export credit insurance [page 27]
International agreements on the due diligence procedure for export credit insurance are set out in the OECD’s common approaches for export credit agencies. The common approaches apply to all OECD member states and, in terms of assessment of environmental and social impact, safeguard a level playing field between the member states’ export credit agencies. In the context of the common approaches, the OECD member states represented in the Export Credit Group have agreed that projects with potential adverse environmental and social impacts will always be screened for compliance with the IFC Performance Standards. The OECD Export Credit Group, in which all member states with export credit facilities are represented, is working on a strategy for assessing project-related human rights. The Netherlands plays an active part in this group, which is responsible for improving risk assessment.
3.4 Transparency and Reporting
Reporting [page 29]
The government supports the growing number of international initiatives to promote transparency by means of tax disclosure. It takes an active part in discussions in the EU on a possible expansion of obligatory tax disclosure by companies operating internationally to include payments to countries where they are active. It urges attention for possible adverse economic consequences of making this information public, and for close harmonisation with existing transparency requirements.
4. Action Points
Policy coherence [page 41]
- In the run-up to the Dutch EU Presidency in 2016, the government will consult with like-minded member states on shared priorities and commitments in Europe.
2. The State duty to protect human rights
2.9 International cooperation on CSR [page 27]
Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles will help to ensure a more level playing field and greater transparency and predictability for enterprises with international investments. States should harmonise their expectations in international forums that support, enter into partnerships with and provide guidance to enterprises. Norway is therefore working for the integration of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises into the OECD framework for export financing.20 We also play an active role in the UN, the OECD, the multilateral financial institutions and the regional development banks.
- emphasise the importance of business and human rights in the Human Rights Council;
- work for the global implementation of the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines;
- recognising the crucial contribution of business to development, economic growth and job creation, and the fact that states have a duty to protect against human rights abuse, seek to ensure that Norway’s positions in the relevant forums are coherent;
- give priority to institution-building, ensuring favourable framework conditions and developing appropriate legislation for protection against human rights abuses in developing countries where Norway is involved in private sector development;
seek to ensure that the reporting framework set out in the UN Guiding Principles is incorporated into the United Nations Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative.
Pillar I. The State’s duty to protect human rights
7.Planned and on-going activities [page 27]
Promotion of issues related to business and human rights in discussions and within the framework of international processes;
Cooperation within the EU for the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
Inclusion of references to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in government documents and action plans, including in the National Action Programme for Equal Treatment
III. Areas of Actions and Measures
Pillar I. The State Duty to Protect Human Rights
Operational Principles [page 21]
Guiding Principle 10
- Spain will promote the effective implementation of the Guiding Principles within the framework of the mandate and activities of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
- Spain will promote the inclusion of non-member states of the OECD to the Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises.
- Spain will promote greater involvement of the International Labor Organization in the application of the Guiding Principles.
- Spain will support the development of strategies on the implementation of the Guiding Principles within the framework of the European Union.
- Spain will promote the European Union, international organizations and international financial institutions of which Spain is member to share best practices with a view to encourage policy coherence and technical assistance to member states where requested.
- Spain will include in its Universal Periodic Review information on its activities in matters of business and human rights, and will promote its incorporation into the reports of other States.
Annex: Measures taken
In 2013, the Swedish Government adopted a platform for Swedish action on corporate social responsibility (CSR). The issue of business and human rights has received considerable attention in recent years. The following examples describe some measures already taken in accordance with this policy.
The State as actor [page 10]
- Sweden has pushed for the inclusion of references to CSR in the chapters on sustainability in the EU’s bilateral and regional trade agreements, investment agreements and partnership and cooperation agreements.
- Following support from Sweden and other countries, the Board of Governors of the World Bank decided in 2011 that the regulations on social and environmental standards that the Bank applies to business loans provided via its private sector body the International Finance Corporation (IFC) should include a requirement that consideration must be had to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
- The conduct of companies in relation to armed conflicts is highly relevant to respect for human rights. Sweden has proposed sharper formulations in the draft regulation on responsible trade in minerals from conflict areas that is currently being discussed in the EU. In other words, we consider it should be mandatory for importers from particularly problematic countries to obtain certification. Sweden is carrying out awareness-raising activities on this issue and supports the OECD’s work on how companies are to identify risks in the supply chain and avoid trade in conflict minerals (OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas).
- Corruption is a global problem and often plays a significant role in human rights abuses. International cooperation against corruption has become more intense and several important agreements have been entered into, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, and two Council of Europe conventions. Sweden attaches great importance to international cooperation against corruption and works actively to implement the conventions and spread knowledge about their contents to relevant parties. In 2010, Sweden took over the chair of the management group of the Business Anti-Corruption Portal. It has developed the Portal, in part through cooperation with the European Commission, to cover approximately 100 countries since the beginning of 2014. The information, which mainly targets the business community, is available in English, German, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. Sweden provides support to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which works to combat corruption in the mining industry.
- Internet freedom and privacy are among the great global issues of the future. It is fundamental for Sweden that the human rights that apply offline also apply online. Sweden has taken initiatives to strengthen the dialogue with business on internet freedom. As a result of a Swedish initiative, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises now call on companies to support human rights on the internet. In addition, Sweden was part of the group of countries that tabled resolutions on internet freedom in the UN Human Rights Council in 2012 and 2014. These resolutions were adopted unanimously. The Stockholm Internet Forum organised by Sweden in 2012, 2013 and 2014 has focused entirely on issues of internet freedom.
- Sweden supports global knowledge-sharing and the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights through financial contributions to several prominent civil society organisations. Such support has been given, for example, to Shift, the Institute for Human Rights and Business, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, and the UN Working Group on business and human rights. In addition, Sweden provides financial support to the UN Global Compact and has actively contributed to the latest revision of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
- Several seminars have been organised on the issue of business and human rights. For example, in 2013 a national conference was held in the context of work on Sweden’s Policy for Global Development. Business and human rights was one of three main themes. In the same year, a conference on CSR was held in Stockholm. One of the focus areas was business and human rights. Dialogue meetings were also held in 2013 with businesses and civil society organisations on the subject of working and safety conditions in the Bangladeshi textile sector. In January 2015, a seminar on labour law and trade union relations was held at the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok, in cooperation with trade unions and companies. In the first half of 2015, the Swedish embassies in Argentina and Chile organised seminars on sustainable wine production.
- In 2013 and 2014, business and human rights issues were major components of CSR activities carried out in Colombia, China, Egypt, Zambia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea and the Czech Republic. These activities are directed by Sweden’s CSR Ambassador.
Annex: Measures planned
How can the State support the business sector? [page 28]
- Sweden will work to improve the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, for example by urging foreign governments to develop national action plans.
- Sweden will continue its activities related to business and human rights abroad under the leadership of the Ambassador for Corporate Social Responsibility.
Annex: Measures planned
Trade promotion [page 29]
- Sweden will act to ensure that the EU includes references to CSR, including the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, in the sustainability chapters of its bilateral and regional trade agreements, investment agreements and partnership and cooperation agreements.
- Sweden will work with like-minded countries in the EU to strengthen EU policy in this area, for example, by persuading more EU countries to adopt national action plans based on the Guidelines.
- In the OECD, Sweden will work to strengthen efforts to promote the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises among non-OECD countries.
The State as development partner [page 29]
Sweden will encourage organisations such as the UN, the EU, the OECD and the World Bank to promote corporate respect for human rights within their respective mandates.
4. Position of the Federal Council on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
4.1 In general [page 5]
The federal government provided both financial and substantial support to the drafting of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
5. National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
5.7 Pillar 1: state duty to protect
5.7.2 Operational principles: legislative and information policy measures [page 18]
Guiding Principle 3
PI8 Guidelines for business enterprises on implementing the UNGP
(…) “In the financial sector, SECO is supporting the OECD with the drafting of guidance on due diligence in this industry. Planned for the end of 2017, one of the objectives of the guidance is to support financial institutions in Switzerland to mitigate the negative impacts of their business activities on the environment on society around the world, including developing countries. The work is being supported by an advisory group of representatives of the federal government (SECO), industry (UBS), civil society (Public Eye [formerly the Berne Declaration] and the University of Zurich).
In the agricultural and food sector, the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), as well as the Committee on World Food Security, the UN FAO and the OECD are supporting the formulation of Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, as well as the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains. Both instruments stress the important role that business has to play in responsible investment, and offer relevant guidance on action. Switzerland will also actively support their implementation.”
5.7 Pillar 1: state duty to protect [page 32]
Guiding Principle 10
According to Guiding Principle 10, the federal government should play a part in ensuring that multilateral institutions take an active and consistent approach to the issue of business and human rights.
Creating and promoting international standards, and thereby levelling the playing field in this area, is a major priority for the Federal Council. It is a cause it campaigns for actively within multilateral institutions.
The federal government will employ the following policy instruments (PI) to implement Guiding Principle 10:
PI36 UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have a mandate to further the implementation of the UNGP95. Among their other activities, they are committed to ensuring that States implement the UNGP at the national level, and that the UNGP become an integral part of other international organisations and instruments.
The Federal Council regards the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights as an important body through which to promote the implementation of the UNGP. It will maintain its political and financial support for the UN Working Group and the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva. During the reporting period it will make an additional contribution to promote National Action Plans around the world.
PI37 Negotiation of a legally binding international convention on human rights and transnational business enterprises
In June 2014, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to set up an intergovernmental working group to draft a legally binding convention on business and human rights96. The group held a first round of negotiations in July 2015, followed by a second round in October 2016.
The Federal Council is committed on principle to closing genuine gaps in international law and to strengthening the enforcement of human rights. It nonetheless takes a critical view of the growing density of colliding norms as the international law regime expands. The Federal Council doubts that a new and binding convention in line with the parameters currently under discussion would significantly improve protection against human rights abuses by business enterprises. Specifically, it takes the view that limiting any treaty to companies active internationally will not have the desired effect. Switzerland will nonetheless continue to observe the negotiating process, and will coordinate its actions with like-minded States.
PI38 Examination of business and human rights issues as part of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is an important multilateral instrument by which to strengthen the implementation of the UNGP. It is a peer review mechanism in which States on the UN Human Rights Council comment on the human rights situation in each other’s jurisdictions, and offer recommendations.
In its interventions on the human rights situation in other States, Switzerland has repeatedly pointed out the lack of protection against human rights abuses committed by business enterprises and other parties.
Switzerland will present an account of its activities in the business and human rights sphere in its reporting in the third round of the UPR in 2017. It will also include business and human rights issues more prominently in its remarks on the human rights situation in other States.
PI39 Examination of business and human rights in other review procedures for international law
Switzerland will include business and human rights appropriately in its periodic reports on the implementation of international conventions, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
PI40 Coordination between multilateral organisations
The integration of the UNGP in the processes and guidelines of a range of multilateral organisations is an important catalyst to their effect. Switzerland works within the relevant bodies to achieve greater cooperation and consistency between multilateral organisations. Examples include its engagement in the International Labour Organization (ILO) for social partnership at the international level, and in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the ILO to have observer status within the WTO in the interests of closer cooperation between the two organisations.
A further example is support and funding for joint projects between the ILO and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in developing countries. The Federal Council will continue to pursue its strategy in the ILO.
PI41 The standards and control mechanisms of the ILO
The ILO has a reporting, representation and complaint system to monitor compliance with international labour standards (conventions). Within this system, complaints are heard by an independent, international tripartite body. In 2013, the federal government and its social partners adopted a strategy for Switzerland’s engagement in the ILO that enables it to promote social justice. . This strategy has three main areas of focus: engagement to strengthen the ILO, the credible application and promotion of ILO norms and standards in Switzerland, and support for decent work around the world.
The Federal Council takes a proactive approach to the drafting and adoption of international labour standards, and continually reviews the possibility of ratifying conventions. The federal government ensures that ILO norms are applied. It also endeavours to exert greater influence and to encourage the implementation of fundamental ILO standards by raising awareness among social partners and the general public about social standards and their relevance.
PI42 Activities of the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons
Switzerland supports the independent policy dialogue being conducted by the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, in order to prevent the risk of human trafficking in value chains. The objective is to improve consistency and synergies between the human rights-based fight against human trafficking and the UNGP. Among other approaches, the private sector is being involved in work to develop recommendations.
PI43 Council of Europe action to implement the UNGP
The Council of Europe is an appropriate multilateral body to draw up transnational human rights standards. On 16 April 2014, its Committee of Ministers adopted a declaration containing recommendations on the implementation of the UNGP for member states99.
Switzerland played an active part in this work. In particular, the Swiss delegation supported the proposal that the Council of Europe maintain consistency with the UNGP, and seek solutions to enable victims to obtain remediation more easily. By implementing its NAP, Switzerland is also implementing the corresponding Council of Europe recommendations.
PI44 Action on business and human rights within the World Tourism Organization
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) plays a key part in implementing the UNGP in the tourism sector. Worthy of particular mention here is the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which acknowledges respect for human rights as a fundamental principle100. Efforts are currently ongoing within the UNWTO to transform the Global Code of Ethics into an international convention on ethics in tourism. Furthermore, tourism has the potential to contribute directly or indirectly to the achievement of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. At its General Assembly in 2015, the UN declared 2017 to be the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and instructed UNWTO to organise a programme of relevant activities.
As a member of the UNWTO, the federal government works to ensure that the organisation actively promotes the implementation of the UNGP in the tourism sector. Switzerland is also on the management committee for the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. It is also working with Germany and Austria to produce a German translation of the UNWTO brochure on the contribution that tourism can make towards the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The UK 2013 NAP
The State’s Duty to Protect Human Rights
The existing UK legal and policy framework
New Actions Planned
(ix) Work with EU partners to implement the UNGPs across member states and internationally, starting with the undertaking made by member states in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy to develop their own national plans by the end of 2013.
(x) Support the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises in their role to promote uptake of the UNGPs and develop guidance and best practice (we contributed £100,000 in 2012).
The UK 2016 updated NAP
2. The State’s Duty to Protect Human Rights [page 9]
(vi) supported the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises in their role to promote uptake of the UNGPs and develop guidance and best practice.
(ix) strengthened international rules relating to digital surveillance, including leading work in the Wassenaar Arrangement to adopt new controls on specific technologies of concern. Specifically new controls were agreed on:
- equipment and software for creating and delivering “intrusion software” designed to be covertly installed on devices to extract data.
- “internet surveillance systems” which can monitor and analyse internet traffic and extract information about individuals and their communications.
Government commitments [pages 10-11]
18. The Government will do the following to reinforce its implementation of its commitments under Pillar 1 of the UNGPs:
(ii) Work with EU partners to implement the UNGPs across member states and internationally, starting with the undertaking made by member states to develop their own national plans.
(iv) Work with government, industry and civil society members of the International Code of Conduct Association to establish an international mechanism to monitor compliance with the Code. This will take the form of (i) certification against the Code, (ii) monitoring by the Association, and (iii) a complaints process. We continue to engage with government and non-state clients to promote the Code and the Association.
(v) Continue to work closely with Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative (VPI) member governments, extractive companies and civil society organisations, to promote greater understanding of the Voluntary Principles and strengthen the implementation, effectiveness and membership. To maintain the momentum from our chairmanship March 2014-March 2015, we will continue to work on better corporate implementation of the Voluntary Principles on the ground. This includes maintaining dialogues with ‘host’ governments. For example, we have worked with the Government of Angola to promote the Voluntary Principles to the participating governments of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
(vii) Support the EU commitment to consider the possible human rights impacts of free trade agreements, including where these include investment protection provisions, and take appropriate steps including through the incorporation of human rights clauses as appropriate.
(viii) Continue to work through our embassies and high commissions to support human rights defenders working on issues related to business and human rights in line with EU Guidelines on human rights defenders.
Support for Land Tenure and Other Property Rights [page 13]
The UK Government is committed to supporting the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (Land Guidelines, VGGT) including through commitments to accelerate VGGT implementation during its G8 Presidency in 2013.
The UK supports the VGGT:
- Through its funding to the Food and Agriculture Organisation in a three-year programme for £4.9 million to raise awareness, improve tenure governance, and support global reporting on progress with VGGT implementation;
- Through its leadership in the 2013 G7 commitment to implement the VGGT through country partnerships with interested governments. These partnerships aim to accelerate and target support to countries’ existing land governance programmes in conjunction with businesses, in particular farmers, and civil society;
- The global donor working group on land chaired by the UK (DFID) in its inaugural year has published a global land programme database and map. The database includes an initial 589 programmes in 127 countries with a combined worth of US$4.9 billion. All programmes are mapped against relevant sections of the human rights based VGGT;
- Jointly with US, Germany, France, the AU Land Policy Initiative and FAO, the UK has developed a land investment due diligence framework based on the VGGT and other international standards, to guide private sector investments under the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.
- In 2015, under the German Presidency, the UK joined a new G7 commitment to align all its Overseas Development Assistance-supported investments with the VGGT. This is being taken forward over the coming years.
- DFID is increasing its work on land, bilaterally and at the global level (for an overview of what we do to drive responsible land investments by the private sector, see our 2nd Land Policy Bulletin 1)
Responsible Business Conduct [page 4]
‘Globally, the U.S. government is dedicated to engaging on RBC at the most senior levels. The June 2015 G-7 Summit Leaders’ Declaration recognized “the joint responsibility of governments and business to foster sustainable supply chains and encourage best practices.” The October 2015 G-7 Labor and Employment Ministerial Declaration sets out how G-7 countries will strive to lead by example in their own practices to collaborating with stakeholders to facilitating RBC by companies. The “responsible supply chains” issue is expected to be an important part of the agenda for the G-20 under the German Presidency in 2017.
The U.S. government also actively engages on these issues through the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Party on RBC, with the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and with the International Labor Organization (ILO) through its work to advance Decent Work in Global Supply Chains.’
The National Action Plan
Leading by Example [page 7]
The U.S. government advocates for strong RBC policies and practices around the world and recognizes the importance of leading by example, implementing this philosophy by continuing to review and improve its own efforts and by learning from others. The U.S. government remains committed to working with governments to raise global standards for RBC, including on labor rights, human rights, and anti-corruption, and to lead a race to the top. Promoting RBC benefits companies from all countries that fight corruption, combat human trafficking, promote labor and human rights, and adhere to high standards. Through leadership on these issues in various international organizations, including the UN and OECD, the U.S. government will continue to advocate for effective implementation of relevant international provisions in order to advance RBC.
Our efforts to encourage good practices and promote and facilitate remedies are strengthened when stakeholders work collaboratively based on common frameworks, standards, approaches, and through coordinated action. In order to further facilitate such collaboration, the U.S. government will continue its leadership on RBC in relevant multilateral venues, and other regional bodies across the globe. Consistent with its leadership role, the U.S. government remains committed to enforcing relevant laws and regulations that have an international reach.
The U.S. government will continue to encourage and model good practices by leveraging its purchasing power, which totals more than $450 billion for goods and services each year, including nearly $25 billion on services performed overseas. Through this influence, the U.S. government aims to accelerate the pace at which RBC practices are developed, adopted, and sustained globally by improving awareness of best practices related to human rights among the tens of thousands of companies with which it does business each year, and encouraging contractors to exercise due diligence and take steps where existing practices can be strengthened.
Outcome 1.1. Promoting RBC Globally
Ongoing Commitments and Initiatives [page 8]
Bilateral and Multilateral RBC Statements: The United States uses bilateral and multilateral diplomacy to promote RBC and business environments conducive to RBC. Examples include the 2015 G-7 Leaders’ Declaration on sustainable supply chains and the 2015 U.S.-China statement at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue recognising the importance of RBC by both countries’ firms operating abroad. State and other agencies will continue to seek to expand the number of countries adopting policies and practices conducive to RBC. Implementing Agency or Department: State, DOL
Inter-American Convention Against Corruption: The United States will continue to actively support implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, including through active participation in the country review process. Implementing Agency or Department: DOJ, State, Treasury, Commerce
Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): The U.S. government has played an important role in numerous APEC initiatives to combat corruption, including the recent APEC Principles on the Prevention of Bribery and Enforcement of Anti-Bribery Laws, as well as the APEC General Elements of Effective Voluntary Corporate Compliance Programs adopted by APEC Leaders in 2014. For example, in August the United States and Peru hosted an all-day APEC Workshop on anti-bribery corporate compliance programs and incentives, organised by the Peruvian High-Level Anticorruption Commission and the Department of Commerce. The U.S. government is also actively engaged in the Business Ethics for APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Initiative, the world’s largest collective action mechanism to strengthen ethical business practices in the medical device, biopharmaceutical, and construction and engineering sectors. Implementing Agency/Department: State, Commerce
International Labor Organization: The U.S. government will continue to engage with representatives of employers and workers, and with other governments, to address key issues including but not limited to: employment, protection of worker rights, and social protection. To that end, the U.S. government played an active role in the June 2016 International Labor Conference discussion on the opportunities and challenges in advancing decent work in global supply chains. Implementing Agency/Department: DOL, State
Promotion of Robust Safeguards at the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions (IFIs): The U.S. government will continue to play a leading role in encouraging strong safeguard and sustainability policies across multilateral development banks and other IFIs. Over the course of the World Bank’s recently-completed Safeguards review, the U.S. government supported strong provisions in the Bank’s Environmental and Social Framework approved in August 2016, including a new safeguard on labor and working conditions, and encouraged the World Bank to incorporate human rights issues in its safeguards. Implementing Agency or Department: Treasury, DOL, State, USAID
Outcome 1.2 Utilise US Law, Multilateral Agreements, and Diplomacy to Promote and Enforce High Standards
Ongoing commitments and initiatives
Anti-Bribery and the OECD: The United States plays a leadership role in the Anti-Bribery Convention’s monitoring mechanism, conducted by the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, which has been instrumental in increasing the number of countries enacting and enforcing foreign bribery laws. In the coming year, the U.S. government – led by State, the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Commerce, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – will continue to push for robust country reviews of Parties to the Anti-bribery Convention and examine obstacles to advancing the global efforts to address international bribery and corruption. Implementing Department or Agency: DOJ, SEC, State, Commerce