The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises contain recognised principles for responsible business conduct in foreign investment, including in the areas of human rights, social, environmental, anti-corruption, taxation and consumers. The OECD Guidelines gain their special status from the fact that the governments of the OECD member states have committed themselves to promoting them and have established National Contact Points (NCPs) to monitor the commitments made. In addition to the OECD countries, Egypt, Argentina and Brazil, among others, have already signed the Guidelines. It is now important to promote the global dissemination of the Guidelines beyond the borders of the OECD.
In a globalised economy, the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility for Multinational Enterprises are of outstanding importance in shaping fair competition. The practical approach strengthens responsible corporate action. It is now important to disseminate the Guidelines beyond OECD member countries as accepted principles for responsible corporate behaviour in foreign investment worldwide. In particular, emerging economies such as China and India should now be encouraged to adopt the Guidelines in order to set responsible frameworks for international trade. Of course, the OECD Guidelines alone are not capable of ensuring a level playing field in the world. The basic environmental and social standards must be implemented and enforced by states. But the Guidelines have the potential to support these efforts. This potential should be better exploited.
In addition to the OECD Guidelines, there are a number of other reference texts and guidelines that serve as a framework for companies to act responsibly in their business practice. The most important of these are the tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. While the implementation of these guidelines is not legally binding, many companies have developed their own processes and measures to promote the actual global implementation of these standards, or join existing sector initiatives, such as amfori, Chemie³ or the Textile Alliance. Networks and initiatives such as the regional Global Compact networks, the National Contact Points (NCPs) under the OECD Guidelines and ILO activities also promote the dissemination and implementation of these guidance frameworks.
NCP procedure for the creation of constructive solutions
The National Contact Points under the OECD Guidelines are tasked with disseminating the OECD Guidelines and assisting in cases of disagreement or complaints regarding their implementation by mediating and arbitrating. The Guidelines are the only internationally agreed standard supported by such an implementation mechanism. The process before NCPs was created to constructively resolve problems related to international investment, not to generate litigation. The NCP structure must not be abused for general campaigning. This would constitute an abuse of the Guidelines, which are designed to encourage and promote fair conduct. The OECD Guidelines therefore correctly provide that "good faith" is required in the NCP process and protect the confidentiality of the process. In Germany, the NCP is located at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. This preserves the link to OECD investment agreements and international investment activity, while ensuring appropriate stakeholder participation.