10 Years on: Assessing the Contribution of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises to Responsible Business Conduct
62 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2010
Date Written: June 28, 2010
The year 2010 is an important year in global corporate responsibility and accountability. The UN Global Compact is marking its 10-year anniversary, the ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility is being finalised after many years of multi-stakeholder consultations, the International Finance Corporation is reviewing and updating its Policy and Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability, and Professor John Ruggie, appointed the Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights (SRSG), is in the final full year of his mandate. Perhaps the most significant event, however, is related to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines), one of the key international instruments for promoting corporate responsibility. Not only are the OECD Guidelines marking the 10-year anniversary since their last revision in 2000, but June 2010 also finds us on the eve of a new year-long process to revise, update, and upgrade the OECD Guidelines. The review is a make-or-break moment and provides a golden opportunity to ensure that the OECD Guidelines are given the necessary scope and institutional authority to make them an effective corporate accountability tool.
This report assesses the contribution of the OECD Guidelines to responsible business conduct, sustainable development, and the resolution and reduction of conflicts between companies and communities regarding social issues, environmental concerns, and human rights. In light of the 2010 revision, OECD Watch will make continuous contributions to the review of the Guidelines. Forthcoming publications will therefore provide concrete and specific recommendations for strengthening the effectiveness of the Guidelines, including procedural improvements.
This report is intended to make a constructive contribution to the review through a comprehensive, evidence-based, qualitative and quantitative analysis of the past 10 years of implementation of the Guidelines. It focuses on the experiences with the current (2000) version of the Guidelines which for the first time set up a complaints procedure that NGOs could use. It provides a selected case-by-case analysis of both the shortcomings and successes of the Guidelines. The report identifies the limitations of the Guidelines and the functionality of NCPs in light of global developments in corporate accountability and the complaints raised by project affected ommunities. It also acknowledges the positive contribution of selected specific instances.
Keywords: OECD Guidelines, responsible business conduct, national contact points, Corporate social responsibility
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