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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal E. Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary of State
for Economic and Business Affairs

Announcement of "Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights"
U.S. Department of State, December 20, 2000
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It is a pleasure to be here today. The remarks of Secretary Albright testify to the high priority the State Department places on our common interest in economic prosperity and growth, human rights, and security for Americans working overseas. The fact that I am now joined by the Assistant Secretaries of Human Rights and of Diplomatic Security illustrates the coordinated approach this Department is taking.

America's private sector plays a key role in boosting prosperity, not only here in the United States, but world-wide. Just in intra-company trade, our companies that operate internationally accounted for 32% of America's total exports in 1998. Collectively, U.S. overseas affiliates employ more than 8 million workers. If we were to combine all U.S. affiliates, the resulting entity would rank between Spain and South Korea as an economic producer.

It is thus not surprising that we are committed to advancing America's international economic engagement consistent with the principles of good governance. These principles are vital to our own economic security here at home and are the only sustainable way for United States companies to engage abroad. It is, after all, a fact of business life that companies want to do business in places where the rule of law prevails, where contracts and laws are enforced, where the customs agents work honestly and expeditiously, where the judiciary is fair and effective, and where human rights are respected.

Among our other tasks, the State Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs works to open markets according to free and transparent trade and investment policies, and good governance practices. And we help American investors with problems they encounter overseas. The Voluntary Principles are fully consistent with our task of enhancing sustainable American economic interests, and we welcome them.

U.S. companies are models overseas for the kind of business practices we encourage others to adopt. Therefore, it is good not only for American business, but also for the global investment climate that American firms be the best corporate citizens possible. We have pursued this initiative in partnership with the United Kingdom's Foreign Office given the global nature of the extractive sector, and our shared commitment to human rights around the world. This is a new process and the response has been impressive.

We also recognize that the role of civil society in the global economy is growing. We need to ensure that our dialogue with the full scope of non-governmental organizations -- whether those interested in good governance, in human rights, in business, consumer rights, or the environment -- is as deep and as broad as possible. And, we encourage our companies to pursue this engagement as well.

The Voluntary Principles provide companies a clear benchmark, allowing them to benefit from the expertise and information the State Department can provide as well as the important value added offered by leading human rights NGO's.

The Voluntary Principles process has already facilitated a transfer of knowledge between NGO's and the business sector. They will continue to provide companies useful guidance for making investment decisions abroad, and in deciding how best to protect their plants, personnel, and equipment.

More comprehensive risk assessments, guidance on interactions between companies and host government security, and best security practices are central to any investment climate. We in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs are committed to continuing our efforts and our dialogue with business, NGOs, and others on this front.

Thank you very much.

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