The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are recommendations addressed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or out of member countries. They define principles to encourage reasonable conduct of business in a global environment, in accordance with applicable laws and internationally recognized standards.
It is the oldest intergovernmental standard defining the principles of social responsibility for companies: it was first released in 1976. Several updates have gradually led to an adaptation to changes linked to globalization. Member governments, which are not limited to OECD countries, are the ones providing a large part of foreign direct investment and in which are located most of the larger multinational corporations. The Guidelines have been designed to promote a positive business contribution to economic, environmental and social progress worldwide, while clearly indicating unacceptable behavior.
For this purpose, the Guidelines are supported by quite a unique mechanism that helps companies implant them: the National Contact Points. Responsible for promoting the Principles, they are more and more structured in order to remain impartial and organize mediation and conciliation when called on for "specific circumstances" on non-compliance with the Principles by a company from a member country. Therefore, it does not matter where the act was committed, including by a proved subsidiary or supplier.
On the 25th of May 2011, the governments of 42 member countries and non-OECD countries (Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Peru and Romania), after joining the OECD Declaration on International Investment and multinational Enterprises and the related Decision, completed, after one year of work, one of the most important revision of the Principles ever conducted. Such a process was motivated by the erosion of trust in open markets observed after the global crisis, the need to respond to climate change and the reassertion of commitments towards international development goals. The updating work has been carried out by member governments in close consultation with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC), the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) and the NGOs coalition OECD Watch.
The most prominent points of this update are:
• A new chapter on human rights inspired the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights: Implementing the framework "Protect, Respect and Remedy" established by the Council of Human Rights of United Nations.
• A new approach of responsible management throughout the supply chain based on the concepts of due diligence and influence.
• Clearer and stricter procedural guidelines that strengthen the role of the National Contact Points.
• A proactive agenda in order to help companies to implement the principles.
The French National Contact Point is one of the most active in implementing these principles.
Updated on: 11.12.12