OECD Guidelines as possibility to increase supply chain transparency
The Dutch government doubts that a law on the International Consumer Right To Know will lead to more sustainability. However, the OECD Guidelines for MNEs are specifically mentioned as possibility for consumers to request information from companies. How this works out in practice is not elaborated upon.
On the basis of a new research report on the judicial, technical and economical feasibility of the ICRTK the government draws the conclusion that the law seems technically feasibility but only with great economic costs. As far as legal considerations are concerned, only with a closer analysis of European and international law can the feasibility of an ICRTK in the Netherlands be assessed. Because the report also expects that only very few consumers will actively search for sustainability aspects of products the governments finds it doubtful that the ICRTK will lead to more sustainability.
Despite doubts in the ICRTK, the Dutch government does emphasise the importance of stimulating supply chain responsibility efforts of companies and improving cooperation between companies, NGOs and governments. To achieve this other government initiatives to support companies in taking their responsibility in the supply chain are preferred. These initiatives include revising rules for reporting when supply chain responsibility is concerned and the introduction of CSR in the Dutch corporate governance code.
Also, the importance of OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises is specifically mentioned. In its vision on Corporate Social Responsibility 2008-2011 and in a letter on chances through supply chain responsibility, the Dutch government has already the listed two initiatives related to the OECD Guidelines that increase transparency and supply chain responsibility. These initiatives are obliged adherence to the OECD Guidelines by all government supporting activities abroad and a broad interpretation of the admissibility of complaints against companies by the NCP. In light of the doubt on the ICRTK, the government now specifically states that in principle the OECD Guidelines already offer possibilities for consumers and consumer organizations to request information from companies, among others in the field of production methods and the extent to which companies take responsibility in their supply chain.
How this possibility works out in practice the Dutch government does not mention. In the light of the non-judicial nature of the OECD Guidelines and the voluntary participation of companies, it remains to be seen to what extent consumers and consumer organisations can actually use the complaint procedure as alternative of the proposed ICRTK.
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