Obama’s Parting Words on Responsible Business Conduct: A Challenge to the Incoming Administration

Washington, D.C. –The U.S. government releases the first U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct. ICAR calls on the incoming Trump Administration to extend upon the precedents established in the National Action Plan and on all stakeholders to work together to build upon the commitments made by the Obama Administration.

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) welcomes the release of the U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct.

The release of the National Action Plan comes during a time of growing concern over corporate influence on government, including most notably through the appointments made by President-elect Trump to his cabinet.

“The National Action Plan creates a starting point from which to address responsible business conduct, and ICAR is encouraged by the consultative manner in which multi-stakeholder input and recommendations were received,” said Amol Mehra, Director of ICAR.

“Yet, the National Action Plan fails to adequately address many of the concerns raised by civil society and labor organizations. Much remains to be done to ensure that U.S. corporations are not committing or linked to human rights abuses both at home and abroad,” Mehra said.

The National Action Plan provides a catalogue of existing federal policies and governmental expectations around the conduct of U.S corporations operating abroad. Much of the plan focuses on past or existing laws and policies, with very few bold new actions to address the challenges posed by business activity on human rights. Furthermore, the scope of the National Action Plan is outward facing, and prioritizes addressing business conduct occurring abroad over domestic business practices. To ensure the realization of human rights, including labor rights, the U.S. government must equally focus on establishing an enabling environment for responsible business conduct within our borders.

The content of the National Action Plan is only as good as the commitment to implementing it.

“Responsible business conduct is an obligation that cannot and should not be shirked,” said Mehra. “We call on President-elect Trump to implement the laws and policies contained in the National Action Plan in a steadfast and non-partisan way, and call on all stakeholders to work together to deepen and extend responsible business conduct as a norm rather than an exception beyond the National Action Plan.”

  1. More information on the U.S. National Action Plan (NAP) on Responsible Business Conduct is available from the U.S. government at: USG National Action Plan on Responsible Business, http://www.humanrights.gov/dyn/2015/usg-national-action-plan-on-responsible-business-conduct/
  2. More information on the U.S. NAP from civil society is available at: http://nationalactionplan.us/. The website contains the “Shadow” National Baseline Assessments for the United States, ICAR’s recommendations for the content of the NAP, and links to over forty written submissions provided to the U.S. government during the NAP draft process. ICAR will follow up with a full assessment of the NAP in due course.
  3. ICAR along with the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law, the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, and the International Bar Association will host a multi-stakeholder roundtable discussion on the NAP and it’s future implementation on January 12, 2017 from 8:30-12:00 at American University.