The Development of the U.S. National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct
On 24 July, 2013, Accountability Counsel, in coalition with the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR), submitted a letter to President Obama regarding the need for greater implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Accountability Counsel, through our membership in ICAR, submitted this letter to the U.S. Government on 23 April, 2013 regarding recommendations for American implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Most recently we were extensively engaged during the U.S. National Action Plan development process. Our written submissions advocated for a stronger American accountability framework for providing remedy for harms caused by businesses and corporations. The United States released its first National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct in December 2016. An assessment of the national action plan, based on the recommendations in our submissions, can be found here.
On 24 September, 2014, President Obama announced plans to develop a National Action Plan to promote responsible business conduct abroad, consistent with the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The U.S. government held a series of public consultations and has solicited feedback to receive recommendations on how to implement the UN Guiding Principles and OECD guidelines and work with the business community to promote human rights, responsible investment, and inclusive growth.
Accountability Counsel presented on a panel on improving access to remedy through the National Action Plan at the public consultation in Berkeley, California on 6 February, 2015 and participated in the consultation in Washington, D.C. on 16 April, 2015. We also provided written submissions to Secretary of State John Kerry on the importance of providing access to remedy through grievance offices for communities that suffer from business-related human rights abuses.
Our written submissions include:
- 15 January, 2015 letter to Secretary Kerry
- 24 April, 2015 letter to Secretary Kerry on project-level grievance mechanisms (co-signed by the Center for International Environmental Law and Friends of the Earth)
- 5 August, 2015 letter to Secretary Kerry on USAID’s implementation of the UN Guiding Principles (co-signed by the Center for International Environmental Law and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable)
- 25 April, 2016 NAP submission regarding the U.S. OECD National Contact Point
Accountability Counsel also provided extensive comments to ICAR’s “shadow” national baseline assessment. The assessment analyzes the extent of the U.S. government’s implementation of the UN Guiding Principles’ third pillar on access to remedy.
On 16 December, 2016, the U.S. government released the national action plan. An assessment of the national action plan, based on the recommendations in our submissions, can be found here. While the NAP provides a solid baseline for U.S. government promotion of responsible business conduct, much more action is needed to ensure that vulnerable communities are protected and have access to accountability. In 2018, the U.S. government released a snapshot of its activities to promote responsible business conduct, including some updates related to NAP commitments.
Accountability Counsel will continue to push the U.S. government to promote and facilitate access to remedy for harms caused by business activities.