USCIB Urges More Business Engagement in UN to Address Human Rights Gaps

USCIB members discussed issues related to business and human rights with representatives of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council at the 11th United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights. This year’s Forum was held in Geneva during the week of November 28 and focused on the topic, Rights Holders at the Center: Strengthening Accountability to Advance Business Respect for People and Planet in the Next Decade.

The Forum provided a platform for historically underrepresented groups to voice their concerns and for business to reiterate its commitment for advancing human rights. However according to USCIB Policy Associate Jose Arroyo, business representation during the formal sessions was unfortunately limited, making the side events and extra meetings, which were organized by USCIB and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), all the more important.

“USCIB and IOE expressed to the UN Working Group the need to engage business in the discussions and highlighted our common goals to address informality, close the gap between labor practice and labor law and encourage more decisive action from States in enforcing existing regulations,” said Arroyo.

“While notable discussions were held during the Forum, the absence of a business perspective across several panels was palpable,” added Arroyo. This message, as well as the fact that business should be regarded as a partner in the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground, was conveyed directly to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a private meeting organized by IOE.

“In our messaging to the High Commissioner, the business community clearly expressed our common goal to promote the Human Rights approach and reiterated our strong commitment to do the right thing,” concluded Arroyo.

In the USCIB-organized meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council, members had the opportunity to discuss their concerns regarding the draft UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights and upcoming legislation in Europe, as well as to describe their due diligence efforts in the context of the UN Guiding Principles.

USCIB Statement on Climate COP Outcomes and US Business

New York, N.Y., November 28, 2022—The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) sought an “Implementation Plus” approach in the outcomes of the recently concluded 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, in which the international community would realize progress in advancing food and energy security alongside climate action and mobilization of resources.

As a dedicated representative of U.S. business in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), USCIB understands and supports the urgency of tackling climate change, and was concerned that economic and geopolitical challenges could hamper or even prevent a successful outcome of this important meeting.

Despite those headwinds, government delegates were able to conclude with progress in key areas, such as loss and damage, the role of agriculture and the need to advance a just energy transition. However, we were disappointed by the absence of any meaningful reference to the actions taken by and the role of business in the Sharm El Sheikh outcomes.

Attending its 27th COP, USCIB noted an unprecedented showing by its members from every sector of the American economy, on hand to offer solutions and support a successful outcome. In addition, USCIB joined the global business community in speaking out for political will and ambitious action at COP27. Throughout the COP, USCIB welcomed the opportunity to cooperate with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the Major Economies Business Forum (BizMEF). We were especially proud to have the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) join BizMEF.

USCIB attended COP27 looking forward to further encouragement and support for pro-active business action, building on pledges made last year by business at the Glasgow meeting.

Throughout COP27, the U.S. private sector demonstrated its actions to mobilize markets and investment in the areas of mitigation, adaptation and support for vulnerable countries and populations that face impacts of climate change. While initiatives, such as the Report of the High-Level Expert Group on the Net Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities (UN HLEG), will provide additional thoughts on how such efforts can be strengthened, further work is needed to analyze the fuller implications of the 40 recommendations to drive meaningful, practical progress. USCIB is concerned that overly prescriptive approaches to voluntary pledges and allegations of  “greenwashing” could discourage and hamper further voluntary steps on climate action and finance.

Although COP27 left much still to be done to address the risks and impacts of climate change, USCIB looks to COP28 with resolve and renewed purpose. Without businesses of every sector participating in these vital deliberations, the international community will not be able to fully harness the drive, capability and commitment of business to advance the Paris Agreement.

Across the multilateral system, USCIB will continue to champion a confluence of common interests through practical and inclusive multilateralism. USCIB will forcefully and consistently make the case for catalyzing business knowhow, experience and partnership for innovation, as well as investment and job creation as we move ahead together to deliver on the promises of the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement.

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development, and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. USCIB is the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC). More at

USCIB Outlines Priorities for UN Climate Meetings (COP27) in Letter to US Government

USCIB policy experts are now at the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. In advance of COP27, USCIB sent a letter on behalf of USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson to Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry, setting out USCIB members priorities for COP27. The letter can be downloaded here, or viewed directly below.

Dear Special Presidential Envoy Kerry:

Addressing the multiple challenges of climate change in all their complexity, alongside advancing food and energy security, are interconnected imperatives. The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) welcomes the Administration’s leadership as it has engaged with the international community for ambition and progress on these linked issues en route to the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh next week.

As Administration officials have emphasized, COP27 is a chance to focus on “Implementation Plus”– win-win opportunities to incent investment and create jobs for shared climate -friendly prosperity, not just from governments but across society. Implementation Plus approaches should catalyze innovation and trade to deploy U.S. private sector technology and partnerships on mitigation and adaptation. Implementation Plus oriented COP outcomes should encourage synergies between climate and nature protection agendas and actions. And those outcomes should recognize and mainstream supporting frameworks for voluntary pledges from business and other non-state actors.

In particular, USCIB members look for progress at COP27 in the following areas:

  • Just transition for workers, society, and employers: Further discussions of just transition should reflect the fundamental role of social dialogue, and recognize the impacts and opportunities for workers, societies, and employers. In this regard, representative employers’ federations are essential to sound climate change and just transition policy and its implementation.
  • Integrated Approach to Adaptation and Resilience: Incentives for private sector investment are needed to direct funds not only to infrastructure, but also to other key societal sectors for adaptation and resilience, such as agriculture and food production, supply chain, and access to the internet.
  • Enhanced Substantive Engagement of Business and other Stakeholders: The involvement of business in all its diversity is more important than ever to deliver on Paris, Glasgow, and Sharm El-Sheikh commitments. The Administration has consistently supported the inclusion of all stakeholders in the UNFCCC and this is more crucial than ever at COP27. We urge you to continue to speak out strongly for enhanced and meaningful inclusion of business with all stakeholders, and oppose any measures that would discriminate against or exclude any constituency.

In Glasgow, despite unprecedented business commitments to reduce GHGs and mobilize financial and technical resources, COP26 decisions did not mention the private sector apart from a reference to finance. For USCIB, this sent the wrong signal, and contradicts a record of real achievement and commitment by the private sector to do more.

The Administration has encouraged business from every sector to step up on climate change and join diverse U.S. climate initiatives for ambition, green energy, green purchasing, and more. USCIB member companies have responded positively, and many have additionally launched their own actions to keep 1.5 alive, commit to net-zero and meaningfully contribute across numerous other climate-relevant areas.

We ask therefore for your support to include acknowledgement in COP27 outcomes of the distinct role of business, recommending increased dialogue and partnership with the private sector, and consulting with business and employers to hear views and recommendations on policy options under the UNFCCC.

USCIB members will bring their commitment and solutions to tackle climate change to Sharm El Sheikh, and USCIB looks forward to supporting the U.S. delegation at these meetings. We will be joining forces with our global sister organizations, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to achieve outcomes for broad deployment of lower carbon options across all forms of energy, to strengthen market-based approaches to tackle mitigation and adaptation, and to take international cooperation to a next level of ambition and impact.

Peter M. Robinson
President & CEO

USCIB Welcomes Korean Business Colleagues for Discussion on ILO, Labor and Trade issues

Chairman of CJ Group Kyung Shik Sohn (left) and Peter Robinson (right) at USCIB’s NYC office.

Kyung Shik Sohn, chairman of CJ Group and of the Korea Enterprises Federation-FEK (and also Honorary Chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry-KCCI), visited USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson on April 12.  Sohn was accompanied by CJ America CEO Hyunsoo (Hans) Shin. USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg and Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog, joined Robinson for USCIB.

FEK is USCIB’s Korean sister member organization in the International Organization of Employers (IOE). Discussion thus included an exchange of information and perspectives on ILO work in such areas as human rights, supply chains, forced labor and discrimination. KCCI, for which Sohn had served as longtime Chairman, is USCIB’s Korean sister national committee in the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and also counterpart as National Guaranteeing and Issuing Association for the ATA Carnet export service.

According to Robinson, discussion also included respective perspectives on Korean and U.S. political environments and the recent Korean elections, U.S.-Korea trade relations and the importance to business of engagement with multilateral institutions. Sohn and Shin also provided an overview of the CJ Group and its American operations, a multinational corporation with operations ranging from Food/Food Services to Bio/Life Sciences, to Media/Entertainment, to Retail/Logistics.

USCIB looks forward to ongoing collaboration with KEF, KCCI and CJ Group.

USCIB Congratulates the Newly Elected ILO Director General Gilbert Houngbo

Left to right: USCIB Senior Counsel and ILO Governing Body Member Tom Mackall shakes hands with ILO Director General Elect Gilbert Houngbo of Togo.

The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) warmly congratulates Gilbert Houngbo of Togo for his election as Director General of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Elected by the ILO’s Governing Body, made up of government, worker and employer members, Director General Elect Houngbo will be the eleventh Director General of the ILO and the first from the African continent.

USCIB Senior Counsel and ILO Governing Body Member Tom Mackall was present in Geneva to cast a vote on behalf of U.S. Employers during this important election.

This election comes at a critical time, and many of the workforce challenges that existed before the pandemic have come into sharper focus in the past two years.

Of this election, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson said, “Building forward together will require our best thinking on how to shape labor market regulations to drive growth and innovation, prepare current and future workers for coming industrial revolutions, and ensure inclusive opportunities for all in the future of work. Director General Elect Houngbo’s years of experience in leadership roles in international organizations, including the ILO, make him an exceptionally qualified candidate. USCIB and our Members look forward to the opportunity to work with Mr. Houngbo on these critical challenges.”

USCIB Provides Business Recommendations During ‘Our Common Agenda’ Consultation at UN Headquarters

Peter Robinson at the United Nations HQ in NY

USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson was invited as a speaker for the fifth and final Informal Thematic Consultation on the United Nations report Our Common Agenda (OCA) on March 11 under the theme Enhancing International Cooperation. Representing USCIB, Robinson attended the consultation in person at the UN Headquarters in New York. 

In his remarks, Robinson referenced a quote by UN Secretary General António Guterres on how the international community currently is facing a momentous choice: will we “break through or break down?”  

“This question is even more urgent in light of recent disruptive events,” said Robinson. “Can the multilateral system survive these challenges? For business, the answer must be yes. Moreover, the private sector is part of the support structure needed to restore and strengthen the multilateral system and realize Our Common Agenda’s vision of more inclusive international cooperation.”

Robinson then went on to express gratitude to USCIB’s partners in the global business community, “When it comes to international cooperation, our focus here today, USCIB is privileged to be part of global leading business groups dedicated to working with the multilateral system – ICC, IOE and BIAC.” 

Highlighting business recommendations to the UN in taking forward the proposals set out in the OCA, Robinson advocated for the need to regard business and employers’ organizations as essential attributes of democratic and inclusive governance in both national and international settings and the critical need to crowd in and mainstream public-private sector partnerships.  

“Let me close with what might at first sound like a provocative statement: there can no longer be any conflict of interest between the private sector and the UN,” added Robinson. “Time and again, whether in response to the pandemic, or in unprecedented support for the Paris Agreement, or in humanitarian responses to help refugees, the private sector has leaned into international cooperation for our shared interests. Let us pursue the OCA’s opportunities through inclusive practical multilateralism, involving business, for the UN we want and need.” 

The President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Abdulla Shahid has convened five informal thematic consultations on the landmark UN report, Our Common Agenda (OCA), released by Guterres in September 2021. Through a five-part series of consultations, commencing with the first one in February 2022, Member States and other stakeholders, including the private sector, have been given the opportunity to discuss the proposals outlined in the OCA and their potential implementation in the Decade of Action.  

To find more information on Our Common Agenda, please visit this website.  

Robinson Offers Ideas for WTO Reform at IOE-BIAC Meeting on Postponed WTO Ministerial

The International Organization of Employers (IOE) and Business at OECD (BIAC) co-hosted an event on March 2 to follow up on the postponed World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial. The event, titled “Trade policy to recover and to achieve employment goals and greater resilience: How can an open trading system adapt to the new sustainability expectations?” included representatives of IOE and BIAC member organizations, such as USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who gave remarks on the topic: “What is needed for WTO reform?”

In his remarks, Robinson pointed out that all three of WTO’s core functions are in crises—negotiation among WTO’s 164 members whose interests greatly diverge, monitoring trade rules and transparency among members, and dispute settlement—the WTO’s Appellate Body, paralyzed since the end of 2019 thus making WTO trading rights virtually unenforceable.

“These three fundamental functions must be redesigned, reconfigured, or reimagined to be fit for purpose,” said Robinson. He then cited a proposed bill, introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware), the “Trading Systems Preservation Act,” which could help reinvigorate the WTO by pushing for agreements that aren’t required to be observed on a most-favored nation basis. “On the issue of negotiation, we also support advancing a comprehensive WTO reform agenda that tackles special and differential treatment, distortive non-market industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises.”

“USCIB would like to lend its voice in emphasizing the importance of the voice of business, among other legitimate stakeholders, at the WTO,” added Robinson. “While initiatives, such as the WTO Public Forum, are welcome opportunities to engage, all stakeholders in the multilateral, rules-based trading system would benefit from greater ongoing opportunities for dialogue – governments, civil society and the private sector alike.”

Other speakers joining Robinson during the meeting included WTO Deputy Director General Angela Ellard, who spoke about updates on the WTO agenda, Business at OECD Trade Committee Chair Pat Ivory, who discussed business priorities for WTO’s response to the pandemic, and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Permanent Observer before the UN in Geneva Crispin Conroy, who shared perspectives on trade and environmental sustainability. Speakers from Keidanren, BusinessEurope and BEF discussed the importance of multilateral collaboration, digitization and strengthening inclusivity and sustainability in global trade.

This dialogue was a follow-up to last year’s launch of the “Business Coalition for Trade, Employment and Sustainable Enterprise,” led by IOE and including business organizations that share the belief that the multilateral, rules-based trading system has been a crucial driver not just for economic growth, but also for employment creation and sustainable development, which have played a key role in reducing poverty and raising living standard in many economies.

USCIB Meets With Australian Consul General to Discuss Mutual Interests, Future Collaboration

Left to right: Nick Greiner, Peter Robinson

USCIB had the honor of hosting Australian Consul General Nick Greiner and his colleague Mike Ryan on February 16 in the USCIB New York office.

The meeting between the Australian delegation and USCIB, which included USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson and Senior Vice President for Policy and Global Strategy Norine Kennedy, allowed for a candid discussion of mutual interests and potential future collaboration—namely in trade and investment, climate change and digital economy, among others.

It was acknowledged that USCIB and its Australian counterpart, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), are both privileged to serve as the respective national affiliates of the three main global business organizations: International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Business at OECD (BIAC).

ACCI also serves as a Steering Team Partner on The USCIB Foundation’s Business Partners to CONVINCE initiative, which is a global network of employers of all sizes that seeks to build vaccine confidence and support uptake among employees.

The Australian Consulate is located in the same building as the Australian Mission to the United Nations, and Consul General Greiner generously offered to introduce USCIB to the latter.

USCIB Offers Business Recommendations to UN Partnership Forum  

The 2022 United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum was held on February 2, under the theme Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.This Forum is the first in a series of SDG-related meetings leading up to the UN General Assembly, and the only focused on SDG17, Partnerships. 

USCIB was invited to speak during the Opening Plenary as the U.S. Business representative through its standing in the UN Major Group for Business and Industry, where USCIB Senior Vice President Norine Kennedy is a Co-Chair. Kennedy invited USCIB members, Bayer, to speak on behalf of U.S. Business. Representing Bayer, Dr. Alejandra Castro, Global Head of Partnerships and International Organizations, emphasized the criticality of multilateral partnerships being inclusive, and how the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continues to serve as the sustainability framework for business planning and action to advance sustainability in partnership with the international community and with all stakeholders.

Castro continued speaking on how, for Bayer, when focusing on sustainability within food and agriculture, they “have welcomed openness across the UN system to partnering with business on pandemic response –and recovery – and many members of business and industry have stepped forward. Farmers have been supporting our food system at a time where markets are facing shutdowns, slowdowns, climate change and economic crisis.” In closing out her remarks, Castro underlined the readiness of USCIB and all colleagues in business to work with the international community to get back on track, and to build back better with dedication to inclusive multilateralism that engages every societal partner working side by side with governments, and with one another.  

The Secretary General’s report, Our Common Agenda (OCA), was frequently referenced during the Forum – both by speakers and attendees. The OCA contains ninety recommendations setting out to supercharge action towards realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will play a critical role in multilateral partnerships moving forward. 

USCIB, with the International Organization of Empoyers (IOE), co-chairs the Business and Industry Major Group at the UN in New York. IOE organized two events in the Forum:  

USCIB Participates in First-Ever Virtual ILO Labor Conference

The 109th International Labor Organization’s (ILO) International Labor Conference (ILC) concluded in December 2021, and USCIB once again actively participated in negotiations as the U.S. Employer Representative. Of special note, USCIB Senior Counsel Ronnie Goldberg was elected and served as Vice President (Employers) of the conference. USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Herzog, and Senior Counsel and ILO Governing Body Member Tom Mackall also participated on behalf of business.

According to Herzog, the ILC is the leading global forum for discussion of key social and labor questions. Each year, Employer, Worker and Government delegates gather at the ILC to negotiate and to adopt international labor standards. Held virtually for the first time in the ILO’s 100+ year history, the 2021 ILC was conducted over two online sessions – one in May/June, and one in November/December. Due to the pandemic, the ILC was not held in 2021.

Among the outcomes across the two 2021 sessions, the ILO’s tripartite constituents adopted a Global Call for Action for a Human-Centered Recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, an emergency resolution on the situation in Myanmar, a resolution concerning the second recurrent discussion on social protection (social security), and two sets of conclusions and reports on Skills and lifelong learning  and Inequalities and the world of work. This is in addition to regular proceedings, such as the Committee on Application of Standards and adopting the ILO’s program and budget.

“USCIB was gratified that the ILO was able to pivot and continue the important tradition of hosting the ILC, albeit virtually,” said Herzog, “and we look forward to the end of the pandemic and the safe return to in-person tripartite social dialogue at the ILC for the ILO and its 187 Member States.”