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Historical archive

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are recommendations by OECD member governments to multinational enterprises with international operations, which promote sustainable development through responsible management, trade and investment.

About CSR Guidelines and initiatives Tools

 

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are recommendations by OECD member governments to multinational enterprises with international operations, which promote sustainable development through responsible management, trade and investment.

The OECD Guidelines were first drawn up in 1976. They were revised in 2000, and updated in 2011. Norway has played an active role in the negotiations. The Guidelines are set out in an annex to the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises of 1976.

What is special about the OECD Guidelines?
There are a number of voluntary initiatives in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The OECD Guidelines are unique for four reasons:

  • They are binding for the countries that have adopted them.
  • They cover the whole spectrum of CSR issues.
  • They are supported by the business community, the trade union movement and civil society.
  • They have a system for dealing with complaints (specific instances).

Whole spectrum of CSR issues
Another unique aspect of the OECD Guidelines is that they are adhered to by 42 countries. These countries are committed to promoting the Guidelines and establishing a National Contact Point for dealing with complaints.

Like other international guidelines in this field, such as the UN Global Compact, the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, and ISO 26000, the OECD Guidelines are based on internationally recognised UN standards and are voluntary for enterprises. The Guidelines cover the whole spectrum of CSR issues, including transparency and reporting, human rights, labour standards, the environment, corruption, consumer protection, taxation and competition. They set out that enterprises are expected to prevent and address violations of human rights, failure to comply with labour standards, and risk of environmental damage and corruption in their own operations and in those of their suppliers. They are supported by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) and the international network of civil society organisations OECD Watch, which are represented in Norway by the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry (NHO), the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development (ForUM) respectively. All countries that adhere to the Guidelines are obliged to establish a National Contact Point.

Follow-up of complaints
Individuals, organisations and enterprises can contact their National Contact Point (NCP) to raise alleged breaches of the OECD Guidelines, such as violations of human rights, environmental damage or corruption. Although the NCPs are not legal bodies, they may assess whether or not enterprises have breached the Guidelines. The Norwegian NCP  seeks to resolve cases through dialogue between the parties. Cases of alleged breaches of the Guidelines on the part of Norwegian enterprises may be raised in Norway or in the country where the breach is alleged to have taken place.

As a concrete follow-up to the CSR white paper, the Norwegian NCP has, as of 1 March 2011, been strengthened and made more independent. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has administrative responsibility for the Norwegian NCP. Read more about the grievance mechanism and complaints process here.

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