US Government Announces Development of National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct

The United States government has publicly announced that it will develop a National Action Plan (NAP) on responsible business conduct. President Barack Obama made the announcement during his remarks yesterday afternoon at the Open Government Partnership meeting in New York. The White House has also released a fact sheet on commitments coming out of that meeting, including the NAP. The specific language on the NAP includes:

  • Working with U.S. businesses. The U.S. Government works closely with U.S. businesses to ensure that private actors maintain their international brand as transparent and accountable partners. The United States will develop a National Action Plan to promote and incentivize responsible business conduct, including with respect to transparency and anticorruption, consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.

This announcement comes in the wake of active advocacy by civil society groups and other stakeholders for a U.S. NAP on business and human rights to address the fact that human rights harms continue to take place domestically and throughout the world, many of which are connected to corporations that are headquartered in the United States or that conduct substantial business in the US.

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) in particular has led the effort to push the U.S. government to develop a NAP that addresses business-related human rights harms. In August of this year, ICAR launched a public campaign and petition calling on President Obama to announce the development of a U.S. NAP. Such advocacy is part of ICAR’s ongoing work with the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), which has resulted in a joint report and NAPs Toolkit launched in June of this year. The NAPs Toolkit aims to provide practical guidance for governments in the development, implementation, and review of NAPs on business and human rights.

“We believe the National Action Plan process has the potential to build inter-governmental coherence and action towards addressing the myriad impacts of business activity on human rights,” said Amol Mehra, ICAR’s Director. “As the United States is home to major corporations doing business here and abroad, we need to see a credible, rights-oriented plan from our government on how it will implement and move towards action the various commitments it has made in national and international fora. The National Action Plan is a step in this direction.”

“We are thrilled to see the United States take on this important initiative and congratulate them on this positive step in the direction of better protection of and respect for human rights,” said Sara Blackwell, ICAR’s Legal and Policy Associate. “We will stand by to provide inputs, guidance, and feedback throughout the process and will continue to advocate for a NAP that goes beyond transparency and corruption to include clear action on important issues such as access to effective remedy for victims of business-related human rights harms and the incorporation of human rights considerations into the U.S. federal government’s enormous influence on the marketplace through its public procurement activities.”

For a complete copy of ICAR's press release on this announcement, click here.

For more on ICAR's work on National Action Plans (NAPs), contact Sara Blackwell, ICAR's Legal and Policy Associate, at sara@accountabilityroundtable.org.