Renate Hornunng-Draus
Head of Department, European Union and International Social Policy

Global industrial relations

OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

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Attracting more countries to apply the OECD GuidelinesIn a globalized economy, the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility for Multinational Enterprises play a key role in shaping fair competition. The practical approach strengthens responsible corporate behavior. It is now important to disseminate the guidelines beyond the OECD member states as recognized principles for responsible corporate conduct in foreign investments worldwide. In particular, other developing and emerging countries should now be persuaded to adopt the Guidelines in order to create a responsible framework for international trade. Of course, the OECD Guidelines alone are not able to guarantee 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. In addition to the OECD Guidelines, there are a number of other reference texts and guidelines that provide companies with a framework for responsible business practices. These include, in particular, the tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Although 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 have joined existing sector initiatives, such as amfori, Chemie³ or the Textile Partnership. Networks and initiatives, such as the regional Global Compact networks, the National Contact Points (NCPs) under the OECD Guidelines and the activities of the ILO also promote the dissemination and implementation of these frameworks.NCP process for the creation of constructive solutionsThe National Contact Points under the OECD Guidelines are tasked with disseminating the OECD Guidelines and helping to mediate and arbitrate in the event of disagreements or complaints regarding their implementation. The Guidelines are the only internationally agreed standard that is supported by such an implementation mechanism. The procedure before the NCPs was created to constructively resolve problems related to international investment and not to generate litigation. The NCP structure must not be misused for general campaigning. This would constitute an abuse of the Guidelines, which are intended to encourage and promote fair behavior. The OECD Guidelines therefore rightly stipulate that "good faith" is required in the NCP procedure and protect the confidentiality of the procedure. In Germany, the NCP is based at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection.