On Friday I had the pleasure of attending a reception to mark the launch of the U.S. government’s inaugural National Action Plan (NAP) on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC). The NAP reflects the President’s personal commitment toward promoting human rights and fighting corruption through partnerships with domestic and international stakeholders. An important part of this commitment includes encouraging companies to embrace high standards for responsible business conduct.
RBC is a broad concept based on the idea that businesses can do well while doing good work. Through RBC, businesses can play an important role in contributing to global economic and social progress. Governments can do their part by helping to set the conditions for RBC to take place. That’s why our NAP underscores our commitment to work with businesses and other key stakeholders around the world to fight corruption, promote transparent practices, raise labor standards, protect human rights, and combat human trafficking.
Our companies are already among the global leaders in this area and are widely recognized for their commitment to promoting human rights, respecting the rule of law, and strengthening the communities where they do business. For companies investing overseas, corruption is a significant market access barrier that impedes business and economic growth. It’s also morally wrong. To address these serious concerns, we developed the NAP to enhance coordination within our government, push for higher standards globally, and strengthen public-private cooperation to help U.S. companies attain their RBC goals in a variety of environments around the world.
The NAP is the product of our first-ever whole-of-government effort on RBC. It also executes a September 2014 commitment that the President made at the United Nations to the Open Government Partnership. In response, hard-working teams from over one dozen agencies coordinated to execute this Presidential initiative, which is based on the international best practices found in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The NAP features details on numerous programs and practices that the U.S. government intends to continue and enhance. For example, our government intends to continue refining the ways in which we responsibly purchase goods and services and finance overseas activities. We intend to work with companies, civil society, and foreign governments to share best practices and support high standards. We also intend to recognize the work of leading companies and seek to provide effective mechanisms to address negative impacts when they occur.
Our stakeholders were critical to our NAP process. We solicited a great volume of quality feedback and recommendations from a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses and business associations; labor unions; civil society organizations; academic experts; and international organizations.
Although the NAP does not cover the full universe of stakeholder priorities, it is intended to be an iterative and evolving process. We intend to continue our work with stakeholders and obtain their feedback to help sustain the progress we’ve made during this Administration.
Please review our White House Fact Sheet for more information on our inaugural National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC). I encourage all stakeholders to provide feedback and suggestions at any time via email at NAP-RBC@state.gov. We look forward to continuing our engagement with all NAP stakeholders in 2017.
Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo is the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics.