U.S. Government on Business and Human Rights


U.S.Government on Business and Human Rights


Executive summary 3

Problem statement 4

Data analysis 4

Key decision criteria 4

Alternatives analysis 5

Recommendations 5

Action and implementation plan 6

References 7


Theissue of human rights is often discussed in many nations, includingthe United States. The general perception is that protection of humanrights is one of the key responsibilities of governments. However,the position of the US government is that business organizations alsohave a role to play in ensuring that such rights are protected. Thispaper analyzes this point of view by evaluating the legal basis onwhich it is founded. The paper also attempts to identify anyshortcomings in the US’ viewpoint. A key finding made from theanalysis is that while there is no doubt that business firms need toparticipate actively in protecting human rights, the guidelines andstandards advocated by the US government overlook the influence ofglobalization on firms. More importantly, businesses face differentchallenges, meaning that no single set of standards can workeffectively across all firms. For this reason, it is recommended thatstate organs should liaise with individual business enterprises inorder to formulate guidelines that take the demands of specificindustry environments into consideration.

U.S.Government on Business and Human Rights


Inan article titled ‘U.S. Government Approach on Business and HumanRights’, the United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy,Human Rights, and Labor (2013) emphasizes the argument that upholdinghuman rights is the responsibility and duty of governments inconjunction with business organizations. In other words, the articlefocuses on the thesis that whereas it is the state’s responsibilityto ensure that human rights are upheld, business organizations have abig role to play in ensuring that the manner in which they conducttheir activities demonstrates respect for such rights.


Inan attempt to substantiate the above claim, the United StatesDepartment of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor(2013) draws upon a number of laws and agreements, including a set ofguiding principles issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council,as well as the International Bill of Human Rights. By referring tosuch legislations, the United States Department of State Bureau ofDemocracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2013) illustrates where the linkbetween governments and business organizations comes in, withreference to human rights. More importantly, the article highlightsexamples of measures taken by the US government towards ensuring thatbusiness organizations respect the rights of human beings.

Keydecision criteria

TheUnited States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,and Labor (2013) has provided a list of actions that are deemed asconstituting the best practice when it comes to upholding humanrights. Just to mention a few, it is recommended that companiesshould develop policy statements conveying their commitment torespecting human rights, as well as maintaining open communicationwith outside stakeholders.

Theserecommendations appear easy to implement, but an important point tonote is the fact that in the highly globalized world of today, it isimpossible to have a set of predefined standards that workeffectively in every setting. On the contrary, standards are asocially constructed phenomenon (Global Policy Forum, 2006), meaningthat they change frequently in terms of relevance and feasibility.


Followingthe trajectory outlined by the United States Department of StateBureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2013), severalalternatives are proposed to help business organizations inrespecting human rights. It is felt that business enterprises’actions should be focused on three issues: policy, procedure, andreporting. The first two issues largely reiterate the suggestionsmade by the United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy,Human Rights, and Labor (2013), whereas the issue of reportingadvocates for transparency. Additionally, it is necessary to bear inmind that while there are laws that govern business conduct, thecomplaints procedure established under the OECD Guidelines may notwork effectively for all companies.


Inconsideration of the truth that globalization poses differentchallenges as well as opportunities for firms operating in differentindustries, it is strongly recommended that any grievance proceduresor mechanisms that are established to help companies to respect therights of human beings should be tailored according to the demandsfaced by different firms. This is to say that governments should workvery closely with individual business enterprises in formulatingstandards and norms that will help in safeguarding human rights.

Actionand implementation plan

Therecommendation made above can only be operationalized if the statedepartment charged with the mandate of ensuring that human rights areupheld adopts the practice of convening regular meetings withindividual business enterprises, during which they will discussapplicable standards and norms. It is suggested that such meetingsshould be held every month.


GlobalPolicy Forum. (2006). Promotionand protection of human rights.Retrieved from &lt&lthttps://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/225/32262.html&gt&gton 14thNovember, 2016.

UnitedStates Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, andLabor. (2013). U.S.government approach on business and human rights.Available at &lt&lthttp://www.humanrights.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/usg-approach-on-business-and-human-rights-updatedjune2013.pdf&gt&gt