Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


22 OECD cases in pipeline

January 2009

More than 20 alleged breaches of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for multinational corporations are being investigated by governments around the world.

Latest figures from the non-governmental organization OECD Watch show that 22 cases have either been filed recently or are being examined by governmental national contact points (NCPs) that consider allegations.

Altogether, 77 cases have been raised since the first was filed in 2002. Of the 57 that have been concluded, 23 have been formally rejected or dropped by NCPs, while another 20 have led to a final statement or have been settled outside the NCP forum.

NCPs prefer to take a mediation role leading to complaint resolution. If parties fail to reach agreement, NCPs have the power only to make statements and give advice. It is then up to the companies to decide whether to take this advice.

Six cases have been withdrawn after negotiations between the parties concerned. Six more are officially ‘blocked’ because NCPs are not clear about their status. There is no formal rejection of these allegations, but NCPs have no intention of pursuing them.

The most common areas of complaint have been human rights, supply chains, the environment, and industrial relations. Taxation issues have been mentioned in seven cases.

The two latest cases under consideration, both filed in October 2008, are against Daewoo International and Korea Gas Corporation, over alleged human rights breaches in the companies’ development of the Shwe natural gas project in Burma; and against the Dutch holding company SHV, over the proposed siting of a Makro supermarket in Pakistan, which campaigning groups say will damage the environment and harm local community interests.

Some NGOs have previously criticized the slowness of NCP investigations of alleged breaches of OECD guidelines, but the latest statistics suggest the backlog of cases is gradually being cleared. However, some long-running investigations remain unresolved.

OECD Watch says a case against oil companies BP (UK) and Eni (Italy) over their involvement in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in Azerbaijan, filed in 2003, is still pending.

Organisation of Economic Co-operation & Development | Global | Guidelines

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