OECD Watch welcomes the changes to the OECD Guidelines that confirm and broaden the scope of the instrument to the global activities and all business relationships of MNEs.
The new text introduces valuable provisions on human rights, workers and wages, and climate change. It establishes that enterprises should avoid causing or contributing to adverse impacts through their own activities or through business relationships, and it recommends that companies exercise due diligence to ensure they live up to their responsibilities. However, despite references to impartiality and equal treatment, the changes to the implementation procedures, which should be the cornerstone of the Guidelines, fall far short of what is needed to ensure that they are an effective and credible instrument.
The update missed a once-in-a-decade opportunity to provide for a system capable of ensuring observance through investigative powers and the ability to impose some kind of sanction when the Guidelines are breached. In the absence of minimum standards to ensure that the Guidelines are consistently applied, it will be up to National Contact Points to step up to the plate and demonstrate their commitment and ability to resolve disputes and help provide remedies for those adversely affected by corporate misconduct. OECD Watch will continue to seek and advocate for instruments and mechanisms that effectively enforce corporate accountability and curb corporate abuses.