An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

(As delivered) 

Good afternoon, everyone, and congratulations on completing this Inaugural Plenary for the Export Controls Human Rights Initiative Code of Conduct, or ECHRI.

I applaud all of you for your commitment to this effort and thank you for devoting two full days to this plenary. While the work we’ve done collectively to promote responsible export policies that advance human rights is laudable, there is still more we need to do together to protect against abuses.

President Biden reminded us at the second Summit for Democracy that “the work of democracy is never finished. It must be protected constantly.” Your vital work on this initiative to safeguard against the misuse of technology is a prime example of our persistence and progress in innovating to better protect human rights.

The launch of the Code of Conduct and this first ECHRI Plenary has put into practice the Code’s political commitments to prevent the proliferation of goods, software, and technologies that enable serious human rights violations. Together, we have turned the principles of the ECHRI Code of Conduct into action. Furthermore, this group agreed to hold one another

accountable by convening regularly and sharing best practices continuously. I look forward to future opportunities to share insights and lessons learned in implementing the Code of Conduct.

To complement this initiative, the United States continues to leverage existing accountability tools, including sanctions and entity listing, to target governments using emerging technologies for surveillance and censorship, among other human rights abuses. Most recently, the Biden-Harris Administration has integrated these priorities into policies regulating our own use of emerging technologies.

Earlier this year, President Biden announced an Executive Order firmly prohibiting the U.S. government from employing commercial spyware that jeopardizes national security and human rights. This order is a resolute response to the abuse of technology wielded against dissidents, activists, and journalists worldwide, including within our own borders. I encourage the government representatives in this audience to explore similar actions that address procurement and operationalization of surveillance technologies within their regulatory frameworks. I also welcome civil society holding us accountable in these efforts, so that we can work in

concert to develop best practices. These meetings are our chance to do just that, all the while learning from one another.

We are living in an extraordinary moment to shape the next wave of our technological landscape. By approaching these issues together – with transparency, curiosity, and pragmatism – we can shape the transfer and use of emerging technologies in alignment with our unwavering commitment to respect human rights. Exporters look to our governments for approval and guidance regarding their human rights responsibilities. In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ECHRI serves as an additional framework for protecting human rights. We cannot do this without building strong relationships and trust with our partners in industry and civil society—the actors on the ground who are implementing export controls and monitoring their impact.

In a world where technology and trade transcend geographic boundaries, it is our solemn duty to ensure that technological progress does not pave the way for oppression. And we must work together. Just yesterday, I spoke at a Jigsaw convening that brought together policy experts, technologists, activists, and journalists to discuss the challenges we

are facing and highlight inventive approaches to confront digital authoritarianism.

The innovative initiative you’ve moved forward today will limit the reach of digital authoritarians, while maintaining the delicate equilibrium between promoting international commerce and preserving human dignity. Together, we will work to ensure that our technological progress will not be complicit in perpetuating repression or injustice.

Thank you all for your unwavering dedication. For those of you who will be traveling beyond the beltway, safe travels home!

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future