Gare A. Smith

Partner - Washington, D.C.

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Drawing on his extensive corporate and public policy experience, Gare Smith founded the firm’s Global Business & Human Rights and International Strategies practice to help clients align their business practices with the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Recognized by Chambers Global as “a legendary name in the field, acknowledged for his pioneering work in Human Rights Impact Assessments,” Gare advises corporations and nations on legal, political, and reputational aspects of globalization.

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  • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1983
  • Johns Hopkins University, B.A., general and departmental honors, 1979

Representative Experience

Banking Sector:

  • Advised the U.N. Environment Programme Finance Initiative regarding implications of the U.N. Guiding Principles for the banking sector.
  • Provided counsel regarding due diligence and international good industry practice for community engagement with Indigenous Peoples to the consortium of banks that provided project finance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Advised the International Finance Corporation regarding implementation of IFC Performance Standard 4, particularly with respect to security operations, by an IFC loan recipient.

Extractive Sector:

  • Conducted the seminal Human Rights Impact Assessment for the extractive sector with respect to the prospective impact of BP’s Tangguh Project in Papua, Indonesia on Indigenous communities, and has since conducted HRIAs in more than 30 countries across 6 continents.
  • Authored leading industry guidance for corporate implementation of the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent standard with Indigenous Peoples.
  • Mediated the resolution of a campaign by 93 environmental and human rights non-governmental organizations against the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Project.
  • Served as the Secretariat for the multi-stakeholder initiative the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, which promotes respect for human rights in the extractive sector.
  • Served as the Study Director for Newmont Mining’s "Community Relationships Review" of operations in Ghana, Indonesia, New Zealand, Peru, and the United States.

Information and Communication Technology:

  • Serve as Assessor for companies participating in the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder strategic effort to protect freedom of expression and privacy in the information and communications technology sector.
  • Advised Yahoo! regarding business and human rights issues related to its global operations and the establishment of the Laogai Human Rights Organization to promote freedom of expression in China.

Manufacturing Sector:

  • Advised the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and multinational manufacturing companies regarding worker rights, health, and safety issues following the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building.
  • Provided counsel to the Fair Labor Association regarding global implementation of the organization’s Workplace Code of Conduct.

Nuclear Sector:

  • Serve as Legal Counsel to the Nuclear Power Plant and Reactor Exporters’ Principles of Conduct, an industry code that establishes norms of behavior for the exportation of nuclear power plants and best practices in the areas of safety, security, environmental protection, nonproliferation, compensation, and business ethics.

Private Equity:

  • Facilitated the establishment of the first ethical Code of Conduct for the private equity sector.

Supply Chain:

  • Conduct supply chain monitoring to ascertain the existence of modern slavery, and provide counsel regarding the elimination of practices that foster forced labor.
  • Helped a multinational consumer goods company with a lengthy supply chain establish a global land rights policy.

Media Coverage

Foley Hoag Alerts & Updates


  • Ranked in Band 1 by Chambers Global, 2020 and 2021
  • U.S. State Department’s Superior Honor Award
  • Phi Beta Kappa


  • Commissioner: Azerbaijan Social Review Commission, BTC Pipeline 
  • Ombudsman for the ITSCI Programme for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains
  • Board of Business Advisors, Lawyers for Better Business 
  • Vice Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet
  • Trustee, The Institute for Asian Democracy

Other Professional Experience

  • Bates International Fellow, U.S. State Department, service in U.S. Embassies in Bangladesh, India and Nepal with a focus on international riparian rights
  • Judicial clerk to the Honorable Kenneth K. Hall, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Keynote Speeches

  • “Worker Rights and Corporate Leadership,” the BP Labor - Management Forum, Muscat, Oman, November 3, 2018
  • "Indigenous Relationships and Financier Risk in Energy Projects," The Wilson Center, Washington, D.C., October 15, 2018
  • “Security and Human Rights in Post-Conflict Society,” Colombian Mining and Energy Committee, Bogota, Colombia, April 19, 2016
  • “Self-Determination in the 21st Century,” the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, March 25, 2015
  • “Global Implementation of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights,” U.N. Forum on Business and Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland, December 4, 2014
  • "Corporate Social Responsibility Challenges for the General Counsel," Corporate Counsel Institute, September 25, 2008
  • "Risks, Roles, and Responsibilities: Corporate Social Responsibility in the Extractive Sector," Yale Law School, March 8, 2008
  • “Energy Projects in Conflict Zones: Human Rights Issues and Responsibilities,” The International Bar Association, Calgary, Canada, September 19, 2004
  • “Implementing Global Compact Commitments,” U.N. Global Compact Forum, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, December 11, 2003
  • “Human Rights and Responsibilities in the 21st Century: A Corporate Perspective,” The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, November 21, 2000
  • “Corporate Codes of Conduct and the Promotion of Labor Rights in Cuba,” The National Policy Association, Mexico City, Mexico, June 16, 2000
  • “Globalization with a Human Face: New Groundrules for a New Era,” World Affairs Council/United Nations Association – USA, October 12, 1999
  • “Human Rights and Democracy in Europe on the Eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights,” The Women’s National Democratic Club, December 3, 1998
  • “The Intersection of Business Interests and Human Rights,” Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, October 16, 1997
  • “The Clinton Administration’s Labor Legacy,” The Council on Foreign Relations, December 11, 1997
  • “Diplomatic Design or Puzzle Palace: The Making and Execution of U.S. Foreign Policy,” U.S. Naval War College, December 19, 1996
  • “The U.N. Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: U.S. and Tribal Government Perspectives,” Harvard University, May 18, 1996
  • “Civil-Military Relations and the Promotion of Democratic Standards in an Interdependent World,” United States Southern Command, February 6, 1996

International Conferences and Conventions

  • Secretariat Emeritus, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in London (2019)
  • Secretariat, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in Washington (2018)
  • Secretariat, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in Ottawa (2017) 
  • Secretariat, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in Bogota (2016)
  • Secretariat, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in London (2015)
  • Secretariat, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in Montreux (2014)
  • Secretariat, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in The Hague (2013)
  • Secretariat, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in Ottawa (2012)
  • Secretariat, Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, Plenary Conference in Washington (2011) 
  • Corporate Representative, U.S.-E.U. Command, Hydrocarbon Security Planning Conference (2003)
  • U.S. Corporate Representative, Asian Pacific Economic Council, Human Resources Ministerial (1999)
  • Co-Head, U.S. Delegation, 83rd, 84th, 85th, 86th Conferences, U.N. International Labor Organization (1995-1998)
  • Co-Chair, U.S.-E.U. Symposium on Codes of Conduct and International Labor Standards (1998)
  • U.S. Delegate, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Conference on Human Rights (1998)
  • Chair, Task Force on Business and Labor, G-8 Denver Democracy Initiative (1997)
  • U.S. Delegate, Fourth Ministerial Council Session, North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation(1997)
  • Co-Head, U.S. Delegation, 53rd Session of the U.N. Human Rights Commission (1997)
  • U.S. Delegate, 52nd, 54th Sessions of the U.N. Human Rights Commission (1996, 1998)
  • Head, U.S. Delegation, U.N. Working Group on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (1996-1997)
  • U.S. Delegate, United Nations General Assembly (1996)
  • U.S. Observer, Council of Europe, Steering Committee for Human Rights (1996)
  • U.S. Delegate, U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission Labor Working Group (1995)
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Bar Admissions

  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of International Trade