Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
November 19, 2018
The U.S. government is committed to supporting and advancing the voluntary efforts of businesses to advance human rights in their agenda, and has continued to take steps towards this objective in 2018. This document is meant to provide a snapshot of a few examples of the work undertaken in this regard.
Laws and Policies
- U.S. government issues Advisory on sanctions risks for businesses with supply chain links to North Korea. The Advisory highlights risks and tactics that could expose business to sanctions under U.S. and United Nations authorities, including the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). It urges businesses to collaborate with stakeholders to implement human rights due diligence policies and procedures to identify/prevent the use of North Korean forced labor throughout their supply chains.
- Department of Homeland Security issues a frequently asked questions (FAQ) guide to address questions under the import provisions of CAATSA Section 321(b). CAATSA reiterates the need for comprehensive due diligence by and on behalf of U.S. companies involved in importing goods produced by North Korean nationals or citizens. The FAQ is meant to be a living document and will be updated to ensure its continued relevance and utility.
- Department of State holds co-convenings to advance business and human rights. These focused on: collaborating to address human rights challenges online; and the role of business in the protection of fundamental freedoms, civic space, and human rights defenders worldwide. A key takeaway was the significance of relationship building among business and human rights groups to address potential adverse impacts on human rights before issues arise.
- Department of State contributes to U.S.-Canada-Mexico 2026 World Cup human rights strategy.The strategy is: a comprehensive approach to addressing human rights risks that can raise the bar for human rights standards for future World Cups; and a commitment to transparency by publication of the strategy alongside an independent assessment. This was the first World Cup bidding cycle subject to FIFA’s requirement that bidding nations disclose human rights risks and mitigation strategies.
- US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) promotes labor rights. Unlike NAFTA, under the USMCA Mexico commits to legislative actions to provide for the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. In the Rules of Origin Chapter, parties agreed 40-45 percent of auto content be made by workers earning at least USD $16/hour.
- Environmental Protection Agency announces that the Federal Acquisition Regulations will require electronic procurement standards. The standard includes new criteria related to labor, OHS, conflict minerals disclosure, participation in in-region programs for responsible sourcing, and smelter and refiners participation in OECD third party mechanisms.
- U.S. government joins launch of Principles to Guide Government Action to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains (Principles). Launched jointly by the U.S. government, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the Principles provide a framework for countries to prevent human trafficking in public and private sector supply chains.
- U.S. government joins 2018 G20 declaration on labor exploitation in global supply chains.Commitments included: promoting: due diligence and transparency in global supply chains; development and implementation of responsible recruitment policies and practices; and use of public procurement to improve compliance with labor standards.
- Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement divisions increase outreach and collaboration with stakeholders on combatting forced labor. Efforts include webinars, panel discussions, meetings, and briefings with an emphasis on collaboration and information sharing.
- Department of State-leads informal interagency working group to monitor violence against environmental defenders, holding more than 15 meetings in 2018. The group engaged stakeholders and reviewed UN, NGO, and U.S. government reporting about violence against environmental defenders to best inform U.S. policy.
- USAID launches first-ever Investor Survey and Report on Land Rights. The survey analyzes perceptions and practices of investors regarding land and resource tenure rights. Key findings include: land risks are the most important factor leading to the rejection of projects worth over 1.5 billion USD; all investors assess land risks, and most find community engagement works better than exclusionary tactics in risk mitigation.
- Department of State contributes an additional $21 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. Funds contribute to mitigating risks of modern slavery in the construction sector (developing techniques to track migration routes, professionalizing recruitment practices, and building professional skills in India and the Philippines); and combatting forced labor in Vietnam’s apparel industry.
- Department of State funds programs that advance business and human rights in the ICT sector.Programs advance multi-stakeholder engagement with tech companies, NGOs, and governments; benchmarking company policies around free expression and privacy; and encouraging best practice for small-and-medium-sized enterprises.
- Department of Labor makes the “Comply Chain” mobile app available in French and Spanish.The app helps companies and industry groups around the world develop robust social compliance systems to root out child labor and forced labor from global supply chains.
- Department of State provides financial and technical support for development of OSCE Model Guidelines for Governments to Prevent Trafficking for Labour Exploitation in Supply Chains.Published in February 2018, the Model Guidelines provide a practical tool to assist OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation in implementing concrete measures to prevent trafficking in persons in public procurement and global supply chains.
- Department of State pilots program on the use of block chain technology to address worker rights challenges. The focus of the pilot is to deploy a block chain solution to address contract switching and related issues.
- Department of Labor commits $17.5 million in 2018 to fund projects to address child labor and forced labor in supply chains. These will focus on reducing forced labor and human trafficking in the recruitment of workers; empowering girls and women; combatting child labor in cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and addressing child labor and forced labor in palm oil supply chains in Colombia and Ecuador.
- Department of Labor launches projects in 2017 totaling $13 million to address child and forced labor in five supply chains in six countries. In December 2017, the Department of Labor awarded projects to prevent, detect, and address child labor and forced labor in the production of cocoa, coffee, dried fish, gold, and seafood in Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
- USAID launches guidance to address community engagement for power project developers in Kenya in the Power Africa initiative. The guidance helps power generation and transmission project developers plan and implement community engagement strategies.
- USAID completes Three Responsible Land-Based Investment Pilots. The three pilots with Illovo Sugar Africa in Mozambique, Moringa Partnership in Kenya, and Hershey’s/ECOM Agro-industrial in Ghana demonstrate that respecting and bolstering local land rights can be good for business by reducing operational, financial, and reputational risks for companies.
- USAID launches third Land Tenure and Property Rights public online course. The course includes new modules on responsible land-based investment and land tenure.
- U.S. government Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade to fund projects addressing conflict minerals in the Great Lakes Region. The focus will be on research on the barriers for financial institutions in promoting responsible minerals trade from conflict-affected and high-risk areas; and financing a package to support legitimate artisanal and small-scale mining of gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum and complimentary livelihoods.