On March 30, 2023, the White House and US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) announced human rights and export control measures that underscore the US Government’s focus on human rights as a matter of foreign policy.  The White House announcement is available here.  The BIS announcement is available here.  The White also issued a Fact Sheet that includes these announcements and other sanctions and export control provisions.

White House: Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative Code of Conduct

In collaboration with various international partners the Biden Administration released the Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative Code of Conduct (“Code of Conduct”) on March 30, 2023, which aims to counter the misuse of goods, software, and technology that enable serious human rights abuses.  This effort stems from the Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative (the “Initiative”), a multilateral effort launched by Australia, Denmark, Norway, and the United States in a joint statement on December 21, 2021.  Our previous blog post on the Initiative can be found here.  The Code of Conduct is voluntary, nonbinding, and currently endorsed by Albania, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Kosovo, Latvia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States (the “Subscribing States”). 

The Code of Conduct asks Subscribing States to:

  • Consider human rights when reviewing potential exports of dual-use goods, software, or technologies that could be used for serious violations or abuses of human rights.
  • Consult with stakeholders (e.g., private sector, academia, and civil society) regarding human rights concerns and effective implementation of export controls.
  • Exchange information on emerging threats and risks associated with exports of goods, software, and technologies that pose human rights concerns.
  • Communicate best practices in developing and implementing export controls.
  • Urge private sector due diligence efforts that align with national law, the UN Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights, and other complementing international instruments.
  • Encourage other States to subscribe to the Code of Conduct and implement similar national programs and procedures.

BIS: Additions to the Entity List and Amended Licensing Requirement

Also on March 30, 2023, BIS published a new rule that adds eleven entities based in Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Nicaragua, and Russia to the Entity List for enabling or engaging in human rights abuses.  The rule also amended Section 744.11 of the Export Administration Regulations to confirm that the protection of human rights is a US foreign policy interest and may be a factor in assessing whether to add a party to the Entity List.  As noted in BIS’ Human Rights Frequently Asked Questions, the rule reaffirms the protection of human rights and formalizes BIS’ existing practice of considering human rights in almost all license applications for items on the Commerce Control List, other than items controlled only for short supply reasons.  


Mr. McMillan's practice involves compliance counseling; compliance programs; licensing; compliance reviews; internal investigations; voluntary disclosures; administrative enforcement actions; criminal investigations; customs inquiries, audits, detentions, and seizures; and trade-compliance due diligence and post-acquisition integration in mergers and acquisitions. His practice includes matters that implicate the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), US Export Administration Regulations (EAR), US National Industrial Security Program (NISP), the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and equivalent non-US laws. Mr. McMillan regularly advises on and represents clients in matters involving technology, including its control, protection, accidental disclosure, diversion, or unauthorized collection. Mr. McMillan has extensive experience working with companies in the aerospace and defense industry, as well as companies in the Middle East and other parts of Asia.


Ms. Test advices clients on issues relating to licensing, regulatory interpretations, enforcement actions, internal investigations and compliance audits, as well as the design, implementation and administration of compliance programs. She also advises clients on the extra-territorial application of trade compliance-related regulations in cross-border transactions.


Alex is an associate in the Washington, DC office where she is a member of the International Commercial Practice Group. Her practice is focused on international trade, particularly compliance with US export controls, trade and economic sanctions, and antiboycott controls. Admitted in New York and Washington, DC.