Fact Sheet: Business and Human Rights

“This administration understands that in the 21st century, governments are not the only major players. Corporations, NGOs, private citizens, and civil society groups shape events and developments across the globe. The United States Government wants to be your ally and your partner – so we are all working together to make human rights a reality in the places where you do business.” – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

As businesses cross borders and assert increasing influence on the international stage, they can find themselves operating in complex environments with weak governance institutions. With this influence, it is more important than ever to conduct business in a manner that respects human rights.

The State Department’s Business and Human Rights (BHR) team, in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, works with companies, NGOs, and governments to promote corporate contributions to global prosperity, while ensuring companies operate in a manner that protects against human rights abuses.

The BHR team focuses on engaging with companies, civil society, and other governments on practical challenges at the intersection of business and human rights. Our work includes: cementing emerging norms on business and human rights; demonstrating the value of establishing credible multi-stakeholder systems to find joint solutions to complex human rights challenges; leading U.S. government efforts to implement the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; in collaboration with DRL colleagues, encouraging companies to implement human rights and labor policies at every stage of their supply chain; and contributing solutions to urgent policy challenges that implicate business respect for human rights.

The BHR team can:

  • Facilitate discussion among companies, NGOs, and governments on BHR
  • Assist companies with human rights challenges on the ground
  • Advise on supply chain issues

Contact the BHR team: DRL-BHR@state.gov

Engagement includes participation in:

VOLUNTARY PRINCIPLES ON SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS (VPS): The VPs guide oil, gas, and mining companies in providing security for their operations in a manner that respects human rights; as well as a multi-stakeholder initiative that promotes implementation of and shared learning around the principles.

INTERNATIONAL CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PRIVATE SECURITY SERVICE PROVIDERS (ICOC): The ICoC is a multi-stakeholder initiative designed to set forth a commonly agreed set of principles for private security service providers operating in complex environments, and to establish a foundation to translate those principles into related standards as well as governance and oversight mechanisms.

UN GUIDING PRINCIPLES ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS (GPS): The GPs are the first global guidelines on business and human rights endorsed by the UN. They provide a framework for corporations, states, civil society, and other actors as they work to strengthen their respective approaches to business and human rights.

CONFLICT RESOURCES: Minerals and rough diamonds sourced from conflict-affected regions require stringent supply-chain due diligence so companies and consumers can ensure they are not contributing to violence through their purchases. Initiatives such as the OECD’s due diligence guidance on conflict minerals are designed to help curb the connection between resources and conflict.

Disclaimer: The Office of Policy Planning and Public Diplomacy, in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, of the U.S. Department of State manages this site as a portal for international human rights related information from the United States Government. External links to other internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.