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U.S Government’s National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is releasing the United States’ second National Action Plan (NAP) on Responsible Business Conduct, reflecting a commitment to strengthen and improve respect for human rights and labor rights, expand use of green energy, counter corruption, protect human rights defenders, advance gender equity and equality, and promote rights-respecting use of technology.

President Biden is the most pro-worker President in history, and is committed to building a sustainable global economy from the bottom up and middle out. Together, he and Vice President Harris have committed to promote high labor standards, bring workers’ voices to the decision-making table, and enforce rules against unfair labor practices – not just here at home, but around the world.

The release of this Action Plan reflects an Administration-wide commitment to strengthen responsible business conduct through multi-stakeholder coordination, convenings, economic incentives, regulation, and other activities. While this NAP addresses the full range of responsible business conduct (RBC) issues for U.S. businesses operating and investing abroad, it particularly focuses on expectations for business responsibility to respect human rights, including through effective due diligence in a rapidly changing risk environment.

The NAP sets out this Administration’s expectations for businesses to conduct human rights due diligence (HRDD) across their value chains, grounded in international standards. It underscores that businesses should go further to implement sector-specific standards developed in collaboration with stakeholders that provide credible metrics to meaningfully measure progress on business impact on people across value chains.

The NAP sets out four priority areas of focus, informed by stakeholder consultations, for the United States government to promote and incentivize RBC and accelerate business implementation of effective HRDD practices:

Establishing a Federal Advisory Committee on Responsible Business Conduct

  • The Department of State will use the Federal Advisory Committee on Responsible Business Conduct to strengthen coordination with the private sector, affected communities, labor unions, civil society (including human rights defenders), academia, and other relevant stakeholders on RBC policies, programming, and initiatives.
  • The advisory committee will continue progress on RBC issues and can help track NAP implementation.

Strengthening Respect for Human Rights in Federal Procurement Policies and Processes

  • The U.S. Government Hotlines Working Group, chaired by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice, will identify options for improving methods through which workers and civil society can inform the government of human trafficking violations by federal contractors and sub-contractors.
  • The Department of State will pilot a human trafficking risk mapping process for high-risk and high-volume contracts to assist the acquisition workforce and federal contractors conduct due diligence during project design, solicitation, and monitoring.
  • The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will draft guidance to direct proactive consideration on a case-by-case basis of suspending and debarring companies from doing business with the federal government whenever CBP issues a penalty under the customs laws for repeated violations or other laws CBP enforces to combat forced labor so that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not going to businesses using forced labor in their supply chains.
  • The Department of Defense will conduct a review to evaluate encouraging or requiring membership in the International Code of Conduct Association for Private Security Providers’ Association (ICoCA)—a multistakeholder initiative that provides oversight and certification of private security providers in line with international human rights and humanitarian law standards—for its private security vendors.

Strengthening Access to Remedy

  • The Department of State will strengthen the U.S. National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on RBC through increased stakeholder engagement. Reforms to the NCP include: the creation of a new advisory body for the NCP; proposing changes to the NCP’s confidentiality policy and updating its rules of procedure; developing one of the first NCP policies on reprisals; improving accessibility of the NCP website; and evaluating options to strengthen the NCP.
  • The Department of Labor will develop innovative access to remedy systems through funding a $2 million technical assistance project implemented by the International Labor Organization that promotes worker-driven social compliance and protects labor rights in global value chains.
  • The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will strengthen protections against reprisals for groups and individuals using DFC grievance mechanisms by updating its policy commitment, developing internal guidance for responding to allegations of retaliation, and enabling anonymous complaints in DFC grievance mechanisms.
  • The Department of the Treasury will advocate for effective remedy systems at multilateral development banks, including the International Finance Corporation and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, for project-affected communities.
  • The Export-Import Bank of the United States will engage with the Export Credit Agency on strengthening remedy procedures and will engage in public outreach to solicit input on how to improve access to remedy and the efficacy of project-based grievance mechanisms.

Providing Resources to Businesses

  • The Department of Labor will establish the Responsible Business Conduct and Labor Rights InfoHub, an online repository to communicate an all-of-government point of view, approach and suite of resources to advance labor rights outcomes in business operations and value chains.
  • The U.S. government will release guidance for businesses on best practices regarding Tribal Consultation and Engagement with Indigenous and Affected Communities.
  • The Department of State this week released U.S. government guidance for online platforms, such as search engines, social media platforms, and other digital services on protecting human rights defenders.
  • The Department of State will lead development of guidance to encourage investors to conduct HRDD when considering investments in technologies that could enable or exacerbate human rights abuses.
  • The U.S. government will develop additional business advisories for companies, investors, and other stakeholders who do business in or engage in transactions involving specific countries and/or sectors.

Beyond the four priority areas, the NAP includes an appendix that elaborates on certain priority area commitments and lists additional actions the U.S. government will take to advance RBC such as those in the areas of technology, climate, just transitions, worker’s rights, and anti-corruption. 

The full text of the NAP can be found on state.gov. Stakeholders are welcome to provide feedback and suggestions at any time via email at [email protected].

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/u-s-governments-national-action-plan-on-responsible-business-conduct-2/

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