The United States continues to put human rights at the center of our foreign policy. The Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative – launched at the first Summit for Democracy as part of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal – is a multilateral effort intended to counter state and non-state actors’ misuse of goods and technology that violate human rights. During the Year of Action following the first Summit, the United States led an effort to establish a voluntary, nonbinding written code of conduct outlining political commitments by Subscribing States to apply export control tools to prevent the proliferation of goods, software, and technologies that enable serious human rights abuses. Written with the input of partner countries, the Code of Conduct complements existing multilateral commitments and will contribute to regional and international security and stability.
In addition to the United States, the governments that have endorsed the voluntary Code of Conduct are: Albania, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Kosovo, Latvia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The Code of Conduct is open for all Summit for Democracy participants to join.
The Code of Conduct calls for Subscribing States to:
- Take human rights into account when reviewing potential exports of dual-use goods, software, or technologies that could be misused for the purposes of serious violations or abuses of human rights.
- Consult with the private sector, academia, and civil society representatives on human rights concerns and effective implementation of export control measures.
- Share information with each other on emerging threats and risks associated with the trade of goods, software, and technologies that pose human rights concerns.
- Share best practices in developing and implementing export controls of dual-use goods and technologies that could be misused, reexported, or transferred in a manner that could result in serious violations or abuses of human rights.
- Encourage their respective private sectors to conduct due diligence in line with national law and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or other complementing international instruments, while enabling non-subscribing states to do the same.
- Aim to improve the capacity of States that have not subscribed to the Code of Conduct to do the same in accordance with national programs and procedures.
We will build on the initial endorsements of the ECHRI Code of Conduct by States at the Summit for Democracy and seek additional endorsements from other States. We will convene a meeting later this year with Subscribing States to begin discussions on implementing the commitments in the Code of Conduct. We will also continue discussions with relevant stakeholders including in the private sector, civil society, academia, and the technical community.