The Guidelines are government recommendations for good corporate behaviour that are primarily addressed to multinational enterprises based in those countries that adhere to them.
These include at present the 30 OECD countries, plus Argentina, Brazil,
Chile, Egypt, Estonia, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Peru, Romania and Slovenia. Moreover, the
Guidelines apply wherever these companies operate not just in the
The Guidelines include prescriptive chapters covering most aspects of
company behaviour, from Employment and Industrial Relations to the
Environment and Taxation. Though not binding in a legal sense, they are
not optional for corporations, which cannot pick and choose among the
provisions of the Guidelines nor subject them to their own
interpretations. Their application does not depend on endorsement by
companies. They are the only multilaterally endorsed and comprehensive
rules that governments have negotiated, in which they commit themselves
to help solve problems arising in corporations. Most importantly, the
Guidelines are backed by an implementation procedure, where the
ultimate responsibility for their enforcement lies with governments who
have to establish National Contact Points (NCPs).
If a company is believed to be in breach
of the Guidelines, a trade union, an NGO or another interested party
can raise this as a case either with the NCP in the country where the
violation occurred (if it is an adhering country) or the NCP in the
country where the company is headquartered (if the problem arose in a
non-adhering country). The NCP should then try to resolve the issue,
through a range of available options that include offering a forum for
discussion for the parties concerned, allowing conciliation or
Ultimately, if no agreement can be
reached, the NCP is required to issue a public statement on the case.
It could also make recommendations to the parties on how the Guidelines
apply to the case. NCPs may, therefore, inform a corporation that its
activities infringe the Guidelines. Whilst the Guidelines are not
legally binding, the mere fact that the conclusions of NCPs should be
in the public domain can have an impact and affect company behaviour.
Trade unions are also seeking to make
the provision of public funds to corporations such as export credits
and investment guarantees conditional upon observance of the
For more information on the Guidelines, NCPs and how to raise a case, TUAC has developed a User's Guide.