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Item 3: “Business and human rights: Towards Operationalizing the “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework”
June 2, 2009

Human Rights Council 11th Session
Interactive Dialogue on the Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

Geneva, June 2, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.The United States wishes to thank the Special Rapporteurs and the Special Representative for their reports. The United States greatly values the opportunity provided by the interactive dialogues to explore important human rights issues in greater depth, and regrets that time allows for only limited consideration of these three important issues. We will focus our remarks today on Mr. Ruggie’s report on the issue of business and human rights and the role businesses can play in promoting the observance of human rights around the world.

We appreciate the work the Special Representative has done to develop a constructive policy framework through which to examine the complex issues surrounding business and human rights. The policy framework also helpfully moves this dialogue away from past efforts, like the Sub-Commission Norms, which blurred the roles of States and companies with respect to responsibility to enforce human rights obligations. We also note the Special Representative’s approach has enjoyed support from governments, non-governmental organizations, international employer organizations and companies.

States, companies and civil society all have an important role to play with respect to human rights around the world. The Special Representative rightly states in his report that “international human rights instruments were written by States, for States.” Through our bilateral and international diplomacy, we encourage States to carry out their human rights obligations – including providing victims of human rights abuse with access to remedies through both effective enforcement of laws and transparent judicial systems through which to prosecute perpetrators. Companies also have a responsibility to promote respect for human rights, and we believe the human rights due diligence approach articulated by the Special Representative in his April 2008 report could be a useful tool in promoting discussions about human rights risks. Civil society’s role in bringing attention to human rights injustices and serving as a voice for victims is vital and must be supported.

As stated in our April 2009 U.S. Human Rights Commitments and Pledges, we are committed to supporting and promoting voluntary corporate social responsibility initiatives at home and globally, and will continue our leadership role in convening government, civil society and business stake-holders to seek joint solutions on business and human rights. We note the Special Representative’s comments on the role played by National Contact Points (NCPs) for OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and will join other States and civil society partners in examining ways to strengthen the Guidelines in Paris this June. Could the Special Representative provide clarification on his comments regarding examining the existence of bodies or networks with international standing to mediate or arbitrate human rights disputes? What are examples of these bodies and are these disputes taking place in weak rule of law environments?

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate commitment of the United States to voluntary initiatives that promote business and human rights, and commend the Special Representative for engaging all stakeholders in a meaningful dialogue that seeks to provide clarity on the roles States, companies, and civil society can and must play in promoting human rights. We look forward to engaging with the Special Representative in his deliberations and working groups, as well as other states, companies, and civil society members.

Thank you.