On 14 May 2021, the Iranian Center for International Criminal Law (ICICL) filed a specific instance against Mölnlycke Health Care at the Swedish NCP. The complaint concerns the human rights impacts of the company’s decision to stop selling its wound dressing product in Iran due to US sanctions against Iran.
ICICL allege that Mölnlycke Health Care failed to conduct appropriate human rights due diligence when the company discontinued the sale of its wound dressing product. According to ICICL, the company did not take into account the risk of its decision for Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) patients (many of whom are children), did not offer an effective alternative to prevent adverse impacts on the human rights of these patients, failed to prevent or mitigate adverse impacts, and failed to adequately communicate and engage with stakeholders on its disengagement decision. ICICL alleges that these failures breached the Human Rights chapter of the OECD Guidelines, specifically concerning children’s right to life and health.
ICICL is seeking mediation from the Swedish NCP to address the company’s irresponsible disengagement. ICICL also called on the NCP to use the complaint as an opportunity to clarify the extent and nature of due diligence and the human rights responsibilities of companies disengaging, even when disengagement arises in the context of government-imposed sanctions. ICICL also called on Mölnlycke Health Care to resume selling its products to Iranian EB patients, provide the victims or their families with reparation for the harms they have experienced, publicly apologize for the suffering caused to EB victims, and publish a policy statement on the company’s commitment to human rights.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter II Paragraph A11
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 1
- Chapter IV Paragraph 2
- Chapter IV Paragraph 3
- Chapter IV Paragraph 4
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
- Chapter IV Paragraph 6
On 18 June 2021, the Swedish NCP validated the complaint’s partial admissibility. On 19 August 2021, the NCP and Mölnlycke Health Care met and, on 17 September 2021, the NCP and ICICL met.
On 15 November 2021, the Swedish NCP decided that the issues did not merit further examination, but that the NCP could give recommendations concerning the company’s due diligence processes. The NCP did not see how it could contribute to the resolution of the issues beyond these recommendations.
The NCP considered the complaint partly admissible as far as the alleged non-observance of the Guidelines concerning due diligence (specifically Chapter II, paragraph 10). The NCP considered ICICL’s call for the company to sell its product in Iran and provide reparation for not doing so to be outside the scope of the Guidelines.
The NCP provided two recommendations regarding Mölnlycke Health Care’s due diligence. First, the NCP recommended that the company’s process be clearer and more transparent. Second, the NCP encouraged the company to be as transparent as possible about its due diligence to external stakeholders when this process is taking place.
ICICL has expressed concern that the Swedish NCP did not take into account its written and oral comments and arguments, nor its concerns about some information provided by the company to the NCP, in its initial assessment. The complainants disagree with the NCP’s decision.
OECD Watch also considers the Swedish NCP’s process and decision to be flawed for several reasons. First, the NCP only met with Mölnlycke Health Care and not with the complainant. Second, Mölnlycke Health Care did not demonstrate that it had in fact conducted due diligence, including consultation with key stakeholders. Third, OECD Watch believes that the NCP misunderstood the six steps of human rights due diligence by rejecting the claims on remedy (via resuming sales and providing remedy to impacted victims), which are in fact part of the due diligence analysis. If due diligence claims are deemed admissible, the NCP’s analysis should have considered possible remedies that could be provided by Mölnlycke Health Care.