OECD GUIDELINES FOR MULTINATIONAL ENTERPRISES – RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS CONDUCT
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a set of recommendations for responsible business conduct (RBC) covering all areas of business responsibility including disclosure, human rights, employment and industrial relations, environment, anti-corruption, competition and taxation. They are not a substitute for, nor should they be considered to override domestic law and regulation.
The Guidelines focus on two aspects of the business-society relationship:
1) positive contribution MNEs can make to sustainable development, and
2) avoiding adverse impacts and addressing them when they do occur.
Their recommendations are set out in 11 chapters and cover topics such as information disclosure, human rights, employment and labour, environment, anti-corruption, and consumer interests as well as three areas – science and technology, competition, and taxation.
They are addressed to all the entities within the MNE (parent companies and/or local entities), and their scope of the application encompasses an enterprise’s activities and activities linked to the enterprise by a business relationship.
The Guidelines also have a built-in grievance mechanism. Under this mechanism, adhering countries are obliged to set up national contact points (NCPs) which assist stakeholders through specific instance process to help find a resolution for issues arising from the alleged non-observance of the Guidelines.
More than four hundred specific instances have been considered since 2000. Most originated from NGOs and trade unions, with employment and industrial relations, human rights, and the environment as predominant issues. These specific instances concern activities in both adhering and non-adhering countries and across diverse sectors, most notably in the extractive and manufacturing sectors.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GUIDELINES – NATIONAL CONTACT POINTS (NCPs)
National Contact Points (NCPs) are offices set up by governments that have adhered to the OECD Guidelines.
NCPs have two main objectives:
– Promote the Guidelines to raise awareness of the Guidelines and respond to questions about the Guidelines.
– Provide a grievance mechanism to resolve cases (known as “specific instances”) relating to non-observance of the recommendations of the Guidelines.
Specific instances are not legal cases, and NCPs are not judicial bodies. NCPs focus on problem-solving – they offer good offices and facilitate access to consensual and non-adversarial procedures (ex. conciliation or mediation).
CROATIAN NATIONAL CONTACT POINT
On May 23, 2019, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted a Decision on the establishment of the National Contact Point as a permanent mechanism for the promotion and implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises for Responsible Business Conduct.
The National Contact Point is tasked with promoting and providing information on the Guidelines and the implementation of Guidelines, for contributing to the resolution of issues related to the implementation of the Guidelines in specific instances, for the initial assessment of whether the question asked merits further examination, for the provision of good services to assist parties in solving these issues, including access to conciliation or mediation procedures.
The National Contact Point consists of two bodies: the Secretariat and the External Body.
The Secretariat of the National Contact Point is responsible for coordinating all activities of the National Contact Point, providing administrative support to the work of the External Body, drawing up an annual report on the activities of the National Contact Point to be submitted to the OECD Investment Committee and participating in annual meetings of the OECD Working Group on Responsible Business. The Secretariat of the National Contact Point is made up of one official of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and one official of the Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts.
The External Body consists of one representative from:
– Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
– Ministry of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts
– Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy
– Ministry of Labour and Pension System
– Croatian Chamber of Economy
– Croatian Employers’ Association
– Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development
– Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia
– Independent Union of Research and Higher Education Employees of Croatia
– A non-governmental organisation dealing with human rights protection
– A non-governmental organisation dealing with environmental protection
The External Body is tasked with assisting parties in resolving issues related to the application of the Guidelines in special cases as well as for other activities regarding promotion and implementation of the Guidelines in coordination with the Secretariat.